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Oldest Overdue Book In Chicago History Returned After 74 Years

By Anthony Todd in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 5, 2012 4:00PM

Photo by Paul Callan.

We get a sick, guilty feeling whenever we have an overdue book from a public library. Somehow, it feels worse than an overdue video or a late electric bill. You are a sinner against the public interest, a denier of knowledge to others. If you're less prosaic than we, you may just be annoyed at the fees. In either case, how bad would you feel after going 74 years without returning a book?

The Chicago Public Library announced a "fine amnesty" (the first in 20 years) that runs through Friday, Sept. 7. As part of that amnesty, a book was returned that the borrower was sure would land her in jail. The tome, a limited edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, was checked out in 1934. Harlean Hoffman Vision found a copy of the book amongst her mother's possessions with a CPL stamp on it.

Reuters reported that Vision wanted to make sure she wasn't going to be arrested when she returned it. Might sound silly, but if fines were allowed to accrue that long, Vision would have owed $6,000 dollars in overdue fees. Not to worry; even without amnesty, overdue fines have a $10 cap.

Remember to turn in your overdue books by Friday!