Better late than never.
Fairfield resident Webb Johnson returned walked into a San Francisco library last week with the collection of short stories, published in 1909, and left with something that many would consider obsolete in modern times: a library card.
Johnson’s great-grandmother, Phoebe Webb, had checked out the book in 1917 from the Fillmore library branch, which no longer exists. She died one week before the book was due, SF Gate reported.
At the 2017 late fee rate of 10 cents a day, Johnson would technically owe $3,650 for the overdue book. He was not charged a late fee, as part of the library’s new amnesty program for overdue books, which has gotten more than 2,000 overdue books back on shelves since Jan. 3.
“Whew,” Johnson said when he learned the massive fee the book would have amassed was waived.
One of the longest-overdue books in history finally returned to @SFPublicLibrary. It has a due date stamp of 1917! @sfchronicle @SFGate pic.twitter.com/ineVruDZTK
— Santiago Mejia (@SantiagoMejia) January 13, 2017
Ironically, the book’s author suggested in one of the stories that there are worse things than being late, such as being cranky – a notion that Johnson said he fully endorses.
Johnson found the book , “Forty Minutes Late,” in 1996 but said his conscience persuaded him to finally return the book to where it belonged. That, and his cousin, Judy Wells, wanted to check it out.
Wells showed up to the Park Branch Library on Friday alongside Johnson and immediately approached the circulation desk after it was returned.
But Head City Library Luis Herrera said the book would be temporarily unavailable until it could be properly cataloged and evaluated by library historians. The library is glad to have the book back, he said.
Wells will have to wait to check out the coveted book, something that she says she can do.
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