On Monday, a book was returned to the Courtenay library. This is pretty normal for the branch, except that the book in question was 42 years overdue.
Titled Wilderness Living by Berndt Berglund, the book’s bright pink time-stamp card shows it was originally checked out from the Union Bay branch in early 1977. It was finally returned, anonymously, on Monday – left in the library’s drop box.
“It’s really a mystery as to where the book was for the last 42 years,” said David Carson, director of corporate communications and strategic initiatives with Vancouver Island Regional Libraries.
Whoever checked out this book all those years ago is lucky the library has a $10 cap on overdue book fines, otherwise they would have been looking at a $4,599 fine.
Despite its long time away from home, the book is in excellent shape.
“The book is in great condition after 42 years. It smells good, its corners are crisp, its pages are nice and sharp,” said Carson. “It’s in really good shape.”
While library officials are happy about the return of the long-lost book, they haven’t yet decided whether to put it back in rotation. However, Carson said he wouldn’t be surprised if the demand for Berglund’s wilderness guide rises and it finds its way back onto library shelves.
This unusual story has also sparked a competition at the library. In a Facebook post, VIRL is asking the public to come up with their own story of where the book has been for the last 42 years and add it to the comments. The contest is available on every Facebook page for each of the 39 branches across Vancouver Island.
On Monday, three random winners will be selected and will receive a VIRL book bag. The contest closes Sunday at 8 p.m.