"Better late than never" - Book returned to Newcastle library 63 years overdue!

newcastle city council
The book in question was a 1954 first edition of 'How to Lie with Statistics' Credit: Newcastle City Council

An overdue book has been returned to Newcastle Libraries almost 63 years late.

An anonymous reader sent the 1954 first edition copy of ‘How to lie with statistics’ by Darrell Huff in a brown envelope to Newcastle’s City Library.

Library staff discovered that it had been issued from Fenham Library and was due to be returned on 25 November 1958!

The book was accompanied by a note stating ‘Better late than never! Apologies for the late return.’

Based on a rate of 15p per day, the return of the book would have cost the sender nearly £3,500! Luckily, fines are capped at £15 and were suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Luke Burton, Newcastle City Council Service Manager for Community Hubs and Libraries, says, “It was certainly a shock for staff to discover just how long overdue this book was, we’ve never seen anything like this before.

“It’s also been really pleasing to see the discussion this has prompted on social media since we first shared the picture of the note we received alongside the book. It’s brilliant to see how significant books and reading continue to be for people and how much enjoyment they provide.”             

Mint condition first edition copies of ‘How to lie with statistics’ can be worth hundreds of pounds. This copy however has suffered some damage over the years and instead will be reintroduced to the Newcastle Libraries collection as a reminder of its unusual journey.