Staff at Orkney Library were stunned when a library book was returned after being on loan for nearly 50 years.
Tomatoes For Everyone by Frank W. Allerton was loaned out to a library patron on January 21, 1974.
Loaned out by the then Orkney County Library, the book gives tips on growing tomatoes and had previously been out on loan eight times before dating back to 1969.
The book dates back to 1958, and this specific copy has only just been returned to the library after nearly 50 years.
According to Orkney Library, the book was kept in a box, which had moved house several times, keeping the copy in “excellent condition”.
Similar copies of the book are being sold on Amazon for £79, making it a prized copy.
In a post to social media Orkney Library noted that they did not charge any return fees for the book nor were they even looking for it.
The library book was returned after nearly 50 years
The library say they wished the person had returned it after January 2024, so they could say the book had been on loan for more than 50 years.
Some quick math reveals the book became overdue when Edward Heath was Prime Minister and the Watergate scandal had yet to happen.
A library spokesman explained the process of loaning out a book back in 1974.
He said: “I can confirm that books would have been issued using a manual card system in 1974, where a small record card kept in a pocket attached to each book, would have been taken from the book and put with the borrower’s membership ticket.
“This would have been filed, in alphabetized and dated filing cabinets, along with all other books on loan at any given time, in hundreds or possibly thousands of drawers full of record cards.
“Very labour-intensive activity for library staff back in the day. The borrower, much the same as today, would have had the return date stamped in the label of the book.”