Ironically Titled Library Book Finally Returned After 100 Years

The woman who checked it out died before she could return it.

Some people just read more slowly than others.

The San Francisco Public Library newest book is actually one of its oldest: More than a century old.

The book was actually checked out of the library 100 years ago by Phoebe Marsh Dickenson Webb, according to local station ABC 7.

Ironically, the book is titled “40 Minutes Late.” It’s a collection of short stories that took a long time coming back to the library.

Dickenson’s great-granddaughter, Judy Wells, hopes people give her dear departed relative some slack, since Dickenson was 83 when she borrowed the book 100 years ago. She died before the book’s due date. 

“It’s hard to come back as a ghost and return your late library book,” Wells told ABC 7.

Another great-grandchild, Webb Johnson, found the book in a trunk of Dickenson’s things back in 1996. He kept it for a while and even read it himself, he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Head City Librarian Luis Herrera didn’t read the family the riot act for keeping a book out for 100 years. He was just happy to get it back.

The current fine rate is 10 cents a day, which would work out to around $3,650, according to the Chronicle. However, the library’s current amnesty program for overdue books means Dickenson’s descendants won’t have to pay a fine at all.

Now, 100 years later, it’s possible that “40 Minutes Late” could go back in circulation, or be put on display. Dickenson’s great-grandson, Webb Johnson, recommends it highly.

“I really enjoyed reading it, it’s one of the reasons I held on to it,” Johnson told ABC7. 



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