Century-old library book returned to Wellington after 118 years

A library book taken from Newtown Library in 1902 has found its way back from Sydney, after clocking up 118 years of overdue fines.

The Earl of Derby by George Saintsbury, originally published in 1892, was borrowed from the Newtown Library in March 1902. It has finally been returned.

"It was just in a postal bag, a lot of people return stuff through the post," said Newtown Librarian Pauline Nelson. "And then... oh my gosh! How old is this and what's the story behind it?" 

The book was found in a Sydney book fair and spotted by a master bookbinder Barbara Schmelzer, who used to live in Newton.

She rebounded it and returned it to her old suburb.

"Totally surprising.. because I had that connection it was returned.. If it had fallen in the hands of someone not interested in Newtown Wellington it would have probably ended up in the bin," she said.

"We were pretty stunned actually," said Laurinda Thomas, Wellington Libraries Manager, "and it was such a lovely thing to happen because I think we all need a smile at the moment.

The person would be facing a hefty fine totalling 43,000 pence.

The next chapter for this well-travelled book will be displayed in Newtown Library, with no chance of being checked out again.