Betty Diamond, of Madison, Wisconsin, was supposed to return her library book 63 years ago. She had borrowed the book. “Ol’ Paul, the Mighty Logger,” by Glen Rounds, when she was 10 years old, while living in Queens, New York.
Last month, she finally sent the book back “in excellent condition,” Nick Buron, the chief librarian of the Queens Public Library, told Inside Edition Digital. “It was clearly printed in the 1950s but returned in pretty much the exact same condition she probably got it in. It really looks like it could have gone out yesterday. It’s not frayed or damaged.”
Along with the return, Diamond also included a donation of $500 – the amount she believes would be the equivalent of what she owed in late fees.
“It was due July 10, 1957, so I would have been 10,” the 74-year-old told WCBS.
Diamond recalled fondly spending her childhood at the Queens Public Library. While she knew the book was overdue at the time, she said, “I was like, too embarrassed to return it. So as little kids do, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.”
The book travelled with her through adulthood, even when she moved to away to pursue her Ph.D in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and stuck with her when she became a literature professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“It’s a great story of someone having a real memento from her childhood,” Buron said. “It was the start of her excitement in literature and connection to libraries and the written word.”
Recently, she got into a discussion about making amends with friends, and then decided it was time to send the book back. Recalling the fine was 2 cents a day, she calculated that she owed around $459, and included a donation of $500 with the return, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
“Our goal is not to make money off our customers,” Buron said, adding that they have waived all late fees amid the coronavirus pandemic, not to mention that the library only charges a maximum of $15 in late fees. “Really, the fines are a reminder for people to bring the books back so their neighbors can borrow them.”