Only 82 years late, N.S. library welcomes back book as if it's a long-lost treasure
SYDNEY, N.S. -- When public libraries lend out books, they can often count on some of them not being returned on time, but this one was out a little longer than most.
A copy of Dr. Dolittle recently found in Sydney, N.S., was overdue by more than 80 years.
"I've never seen a book that's eighty-two years overdue," said Nicole MacGibbon of the Cape Breton Regional Library.
It all started when Cape Breton entertainer Jordan Muscyscyn was renovating his Sydney home, which is about a hundred years old.
"We were putting a fan in our bathroom, so we had to cut a hole through our roof and while we were up in the attic, we found a bunch of old books," Musycsyn said.
But the copy of The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle stood out because inside was an additional piece of history -- one that appears to show the book had been borrowed from the Sydney Public Library by a little girl sometime around the end of the Great Depression.
"This one in particular had the old library card from 1939," Musycsyn said. "And I just thought that was interesting, because it was the same week that the library had abolished their fines. So I thought it was a good thing, because I wouldn't want to know what the fine on an 82-year-old overdue book would be."
Now, all these years later, Musyscyn has returned Dr. Dolittle to the McConnell Sydney Library, which wasn't even built when the book was borrowed.
Staff there are overjoyed.
"To us, it's a priceless item," said MacGibbon.
As for what the late fee would be, just for fun, library staff did the math.
"Assuming a charge of fifteen cents a day, if we had charged a late fee, it would have amounted to about three thousand dollars," MacGibbon said.
In a way, it's only proper that no one was ever made to pay up because there's an ironic twist to the story.
"Finding out more of the history, you know, they had a fire here in '59, and most of the books didn't make it, so this book would have kind of burned up in that fire," Musycsyn said.
Instead, it will be kept here as a small chapter of local history and library staff are looking to track down someone who knew the little girl who signed it out so long ago.
"So, we're hoping to hear from maybe a family member or relative of the original borrower," MacGibbon said."And then we'd be happy to chat with them about what the next steps are."