20 Aug 2020

Book returned to Newtown Library 118 years after it was borrowed

From Lately, 10:30 pm on 20 August 2020

Staff at Wellington's Newtown Library have received a library book in the mail, returned 118 years after it was borrowed in 1902.

Master book binder and conservator Barbara Schmelzer found the book, The Earl of Derby, by George Saintsbury in Sydney, where she lives.

Barbara, who has lived in Wellington in the past, volunteers for the charity Lifeline on Sydney’s northern beaches, and the book was donated for a fundraiser, she told Karyn Hay.

‘I deal with the collectibles the old books that get donated.

The Earl of Derby was borrowed from Newtown Library in March 1902 and returned this week after 118 years.

The Earl of Derby was borrowed from Newtown Library in March 1902 and returned this week after 118 years. Photo: Wellington City Libraries

“And the Earl of Derby was one of those books. I do the research on the books and see how valuable they are and if there are any previous owners.”

A plate at the front of the book showed it had been borrowed from the Newtown Library.

The book was in good condition, she says.

“It was in its original bindings and had a Newtown library plate on the front of the book and it was book number 194 on the shelf.

“I strengthened the joints a little bit, so it wouldn’t fall out of the cover.”

The Earl of Derby is one in a series of books about the prime ministers in the reign of Queen Victoria.

Although long overdue, the library was delighted to get the book back and said in a Twitter post they would waive the penny a day overdue fine.

It cost Barbara $A25 to return it, which she says she hopes goes some way towards the overdue owed on the book.

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