A Woman Returned A 34-Year-Overdue Library Book After Finding It Hiding... Oops, I Guess?

You know that sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you forgot to do something? Imagine realizing you forgot to do something more than three decades ago. You’re probably getting close to the emotion felt by the woman who found a library book from 1981 on top of her mother's fridge. Yeah, she was freaking out because the library book was 34 years overdue.

Things that happened in 1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in theaters; Bob Marley died; a bunch of guys played the first-ever game of paintball; MTV was launched; and a 13-year-old girl named Michele Wojciechowski took out a copy of Frankenstein from her local library. At a rate of 20 cents a day, Wojciechowski has racked up an impressive fine of $2,500; luckily for her, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, where the book was originally borrowed from, cap their fines at $6. Although she got off lightly, Wojciechowski, who’s a writer herself, felt so guilty about depriving other readers of Frankenstein for so long that she donated one of her own books to each of the city’s library branches to make up for it.

Amazingly, Wojciechowski’s wasn’t the longest overdue book the library had ever seen. The library’s Director of Communications told ABC News that in 2010 a library book was returned 64 years late by a World War II veteran, and that his colleagues remember books returned after even longer periods. And I thought I was forgetful.

Wojciechowski shouldn’t feel too bad, though, as she’s in pretty good company. A library book was discovered in a historic house in Britain 123 years after it was due back; the charity that now owns the stately home only escaped a £4,489 fee by virtue of the library having closed down. And a library book returned after 221 years (and charged a whopping $300,000 fee) was checked out in 1789 by none other than President George Washington.

So it’s time to get digging under your sofas, y’all — to uncover the massively overdue library books you’re probably hiding under there. Libraries are pretty incredible, and they need all the help they can get; I’d hate to see them lose out just because we’re all so darn scatterbrained.

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