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Book Returned to Finnish Library 84 Years Late: ‘Deadline Was 1939’

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Photo: Book Returned to Finnish Library 84 Years Late: ‘Deadline Was 1939’. Source: facebook.com/keskustakirjastoOodi
Photo: Book Returned to Finnish Library 84 Years Late: ‘Deadline Was 1939’. Source: facebook.com/keskustakirjastoOodi

A book borrowed in 1939 84 years late has recently been returned to Helsinki's Oodi central library, a librarian in the Finnish capital has said, Yle reports.

Arthur Conan Doyle's book The Exiles was borrowed from the Helsinki Oodi Central Library on 26 December 1939 and returned on 27 May 2024.

‘It's nice to have it back,’ says Emma-Lotta Tinkkinen, IT specialist at Oodi Library.

The book Pakolaiset (The Exiles) is a historical novel published in 1893, set in 17th-century France.

According to Tinkkinen, the book was returned to the Oodi information desk because the return machine did not accept such an old book.

According to the library card that came with the book, the last borrower of the book was a businessman from Pursimiehenkatu. Judging by the return date, it was not returned by the same businessman, but the library has no further information about the return or the history of the book.

‘The book is in surprisingly good condition. The binding is intact and has no large marks. It's in a readable condition,’ says the specialist. 

Library lending systems have changed so much over the decades that the Helsinki library archives no longer have any record of the book The Exiles being left on loan.

‘It's like we don't even have the book,’ the library says.

The person who returned it would not be fined for being late, Tinkkinen adds.

The book then travelled from the Oodi library to the Pasila Book Warehouse, where it is being decided whether the book will be included in the Warehouse Library's collection.

According to Tinkkinen, quite a few overdue books are returned to the Oodi Library from time to time, but such old copies are rare.

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