A BOOK that had been overdue since the mid 1960s has been returned to an Irish library after almost 20,000 days.
The biography of Father Theobald Mathew by Rev Patrick Rogers was returned to Thurles library in Co. Tipperary this week for the first time in 53 years.
The book had been due back on May 30, 1965 - which at the time of its return on Tuesday was 19,433 days previously.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, librarian John O’Gorman said: "A gentleman walked in on Tuesday evening with this well thumbed, faded copy of Rev Rogers’ biography under his arm.
"He informed us that although he himself had not borrowed the book, he had been clearing out the house and found a stack of books, went through them and discovered that one of them was a long way from home.
"So he decided to return it to us in Thurles library".
Library staff worked out that the fine for the late return - at 5c a day - should amount to €970.65, although the penalty is not going to be enforced.
An overdue was returned to Thurles Library last evening.
Rev. Roger's "Theobald Mathew".
Published in 1943.
Overdue since 30 May 1965.
Overdue by exactly 19,433 days.
The fine is €971.65.
But if they pay €950 we'll say no more about it 'coz we're sound like that... pic.twitter.com/aeUhBQR6d1
— TippCoCoLibraries (@TippLib) August 15, 2018
Fines for overdue returns are currently being phased out under the Irish Government's new national library strategy.
"It has been found that the threat of a fine hanging over a borrower is counter productive and it keeps more people away from our public library system than it brings in," said Mr O'Gorman.
"We’re all about trying to attract the community back to the library service.”
Usually a book returned so late would go to a central store, but the volume has attracted so much interest, said Mr O'Gorman, that "we may have to do something more special. It will get a shelf of its own".
He added: "An awful lot of people come into our local history branch, there is a lot of calls for publications like this for local historians and anybody who wants to delve into some of the older publications we have.
"One of the reasons why we publicised this is, as people have noticed from our social media posts, is we’ve taken a lighthearted approach.
"We’re actually coming up with a fantastical figure to just poke fun at our charges, that although your book may be weeks or years overdue, they’re always very welcome back at the library as are their borrowers - you’ll be welcome with open arms and you won’t need your cheque book.
"We’re happy to get a book back, but more happy to get patrons back using the library service."