Long-lost library book returned from Croatia to Ipswich... 64 years late

130522 Ipswich Gainsborough Library staff member Kim Risby with long-lost book.
Credit: Suffolk County Council
Librarian Kim Risby with the lost book which was stamped for return on 30 July 1958 Credit: Suffolk Libraries

A long-lost library book borrowed in 1958 has finally been returned - more than six decades late and after making a 1,000-mile journey from Croatia.

The long overdue novel called "The Loving Couple" was supposed to be returned on 30 July 1958. At the time Queen had been on the throne for only six years while this year she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee.

The Loving Couple, written by American author Patrick Dennis under the pen name of Virginia Rowans, is split into two narratives - referred to as 'her story' and 'his story' - recounting two perspectives of the humorous life of a married couple.

It was loaned from Gainsborough Community Library in Ipswich in 1958 and ended up in Dubrovnik Libraries in Croatia.

Suffolk librarians had given the book up as lost, until their colleagues in Dubrovnik returned the book, which is still in good condition.

Kim Risby, library and information advisor at Gainsborough Community Library, said: “It was such a surprise receiving a book back after all this time and from so far away - a really lovely gesture from our colleagues in Croatia.

"I was Googling away to make sure there wasn't another Gainsborough branch in a different borough of Ipswich anywhere.

“I've always felt, and I'm sure the rest of Suffolk Libraries agree, that it takes passion to work in libraries, and it's nice to know that that is a feeling shared by other librarians in other parts of the world.

“We'd also like to ask our customers to return their books a little bit before 60 years have passed!”

The inside cover of the book helped librarians in Dubrovnik track down its home in Suffolk Credit: Suffolk Libraries

This book beats the journey made by a book originally borrowed from Shetland Library in 1983 which turned up last year at Bungay Library in Suffolk.

The book was returned to its home 750 miles away in Scotland.

A staff member Dubrovnik Libraries who returned the book to Gainsborough Community Library wrote in a letter: “As 'her story' continues, it is proper that the book goes the whole circle and returns from where her travel started. I feel it’s not up to us to decide how the journey ends.”

Suffolk Libraries, the charity which runs the county’s library service, said that since the book was borrowed, the library had been completely rebuilt, with a new facility opening in 2003.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know