Humanities & Culture

Fee Dodger

UW Libraries

This library book is 27,000 days overdue.

Let’s hope the book wasn’t reserved.

In July, the UW Libraries received a returned book — Selected Papers on Philosophy by William James — from an anonymous source. The book had been checked out in January 1938 by one of the source’s parents (who had met as students in the ’30s), but never returned. When it arrived, it was seventy-five years, five months, and three weeks overdue.

“I am not sure which of my parents is the scofflaw,” the source wrote in a note to the library, “but it seems appropriate to return [the book]. I hope that the absence of this work has not had adverse consequences for the intellectual life of the university.”

In general, the UW is fairly forgiving on overdue library books. In many cases, there’s no fine at all, as long as the book is returned. But if a book is on reserve, the current fine is $5 per day. For the 27,566 days that this book was late, that would add up to $137,830. But, then, knowledge is priceless.

Published in the Winter 2013 issue


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