Book Returned to Australian Library, 122 Years Late

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Thankfully the Camden Council’s public library in Sydney, Australia, shows mercy, because a $37,000 late fee just seems a bit much, don’t you think?

But, then again, a first-edition copy of Charles Darwin’s “Insectivorous Plants” was returned a wee bit late—122 years to be exact.

The book was first checked out from the Camden School of Arts’ library on Jan. 30, 1889. That library has since morphed into the Camden Council Library in Sydney’s southwest, where the book showed up again this month.

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While all 122 years of the book’s whereabouts remain unknown, it was in retired University of Sydney veterinarian Ron Hyne’s personal library for about 50 years. Dr Hyne donated it to the University of Sydney Farms library when he moved from Werombi to Avalon last month, according to the Macarhur Chronicle. He can’t recall exactly where he received the book.

Library service manager Kathryn Baget-Juleff estimates the late fine could top $37,000, accounting for inflation. But instead of enforcing the fine, the library will send the book into the library’s read-only section where it—hopefully—doesn’t skip out of circulation for another 122 years.

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