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Shelved

Shelved

A few days before Christmas, a box arrived at the University’s McDonald Library. It came on a wing and prayer, with no return address. Its contents: a book and a confession.

“Nearly twenty years ago, I stole this book from MacDonald (sic) Library. It was stupid and selfish, and at this Christmas season, I want to return this book to where it rightfully belongs. I apologize for my action and regret it.”

The old red book, The Psalms In Latin and English, was long gone and forgotten. The library’s catalog system was electronically upgraded from the paper system used when the book was heisted, and the title was never entered into the computers. Therefore, it was no longer included among the hundreds of thousands of titles in the library’s system.

So it was a surprise to librarian Alison Morgan when she opened the box and found the book. The note was unsigned, so, obviously, the offending borrower doesn’t want to be known. If the person was an undergraduate student then, he would be in his early 40s now. “Maybe he’s having a midlife crisis,” Morgan says.

Normally, fines for overdue books are 10 cents a day. Over the course of 20 years that amounts to $730. Those books not returned within a set time, though, are listed as missing, and the library’s charge for a lost book is $60.

“I was very surprised, pleasantly,” Morgan says. “It was kind of neat. I thought it was amazing that he or she took the time to return the book, and for us to get it back.”

She said it will be entered into the system and returned to the shelves.

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