Book returned to Seattle Library more than 40 years overdue, with apology note inside

SEATTLE - A Seattle Public Library worker discovered a piece of history last week, hidden in a pile of books.

Kirk Blankenship, who is a selection librarian, was helping sort books that didn't have proper identification tags to check them back in.

"I always take a look because we want to make sure the book is otherwise in good condition and proceed with getting it back in the system," said Blankenship.

But, one in particular caught his attention.

"I was going through some books and came across this one," said Blakenship, holding the book, "Rattlesnakes" by J. Frank Dobie.

He opened it to find a note inside that read, "Sorry, I just cleaned (started emptying) my bedroom closet. It was in a box."

"I started looking closer because I wanted to see what was going on and I noticed the due date card, and just the fact that there's a card at all is remarkable, we haven't used cards for years, and it said June 15, 1976," said Blankenship.

The book was finally returned to the library after 40 years.

"I was like wow, this is a little piece of history in our hands," said Blankenship. "So many changes have happened to us and the city and everything else that it was remarkable for that."

Blankenship said he was so fascinated, he posted a picture of the book, note and due date card on the library staff intranet. The Library then tweeted out the photo over the weekend.

"I like the idea that someone found it and still made a special trip to return it and get it back to us," said Blankenship. "I think it says a lot about us and the relationship with the community and the idea that someone found it and didn't just shrug their shoulders and toss it aside."

Blankenship said they're not sure if the person who returned the book is even the one who checked it out.

"Who knows the story, that's the part that's very interesting," he said. "But regardless, they knew were to find us and they brought it back and made a trip to the library just to do that."

Blankenship said they'd love to hear the rest of the story behind the book that was found.

According to the Seattle Public Library website, the fine for overdue books is $0.25 a day with a maximum fine of $8. If there wasn't a maximum limit, the fine after more than 40 years would be over $3,700.

But, Blankenship wants the person who returned the book to know, it's not even in their system anymore and there's no fines associated with the book.

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