Long Lost Book Returned to Watertown Library After Nearly 90 Years

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This book was retuned to the to the Watertown Library after being checked out for the better part of a century. (Courtesy of the WFPL)

If you’ve been waiting for that travel guide to Italy, it’s back at the Watertown Free Public Library … after nearly 90 years!

“Hill Towns of Italy,” a book by Egerton R. Williams Jr. that was first published in 1903 recently came back to the Library. It was checked out on Jan. 30, 1934, according to the stamp on the inside cover of the book.

Back then, books were due after 14 days, so it was more than 89 years and 10 months overdue from the Feb. 13, 1934 due date. On a Facebook post, the Library said that the book would have generated quite a hefty fine.

“According to the policy pasted inside this book, this patron would owe us ~ $656.00. Fortunately for them, we no longer charge late fines!” the library said in the post on its Facebook page.

The inside cover of the book that was nearly 90 years overdue when it came back to the Watertown Library. (Courtesy of the WFPL)

The book was located by someone in Washington, D.C., the Library said in the post, and it was returned during a trip to Boston.

The book had only been checked out three times before it went missing.

The library will hang on to the book, but it will not go back into circulation, said Jamie Kallestad, the Library’s Print and Digital Promotion Specialist.

These days, the library allows people to borrow books for three weeks, for most books, and they are automatically renewed. Another change from 1934 to now is the Library’s hours. Then it was open 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. (and til 8 p.m. from July 1 to Sept. 1), while in 2023 the library is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Fridays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; and Sundays from 1-5 p.m.

2 thoughts on “Long Lost Book Returned to Watertown Library After Nearly 90 Years

  1. I would love to get a look inside that book! In 90 years the world has changed, and Italy went through WWII. I’d love to see how many towns still exist and how many have become ghost towns. The roads are certainly built up since then. Will WPL have it in a curated place?

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