At £7.49, it was a steal as a first edition internet purchase – but the price tag could have ended up much higher for buyer Alastair McIntosh.
Father Allan’s Island, by Amy Murray, was actually 36 years overdue to be returned to Stornoway Library and – by 1982 calculations – theoretically owing £374.
The book was discovered by Scottish writer, academic and activist Alastair
McIntosh after ordering what he believed to be a second hand book from eBay, at a cost of £7.49; however, he was less than impressed to discover on its arrival that it had within its covers a Western Isles Libraries stamp.
Despite not having an official stamp to pinpoint its date of withdrawal, library staff have since found the official year of withdrawal within an old card catalogue dating back to 1982.
Mr McIntosh said: “I hugely value the library’s collection and the helpfulness of its staff. Like many people, I rely on that oasis of learning in the heart of Stornoway for my research as a writer. I am therefore very glad to be able to see this copy returned.”
Officials believe that the owner at the time would have been given a grace period of around three weeks, prior to a 20p a week charge being implemented thereafter.
Despite library charges being abolished since, officials believe the fine owed on the book comes to £374.
Kathleen Milne, manager of Stornoway Library, said said: “It’s lovely to have the book back and very special to have it back on the shelf. It’s a special edition and is in really good condition. We were very thankful when Alastair got in touch.”
Mr McIntosh was born on the Isle of Lewis and brought up in Leurbost. His best-known work is his 2001 book Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power. Since then he has published a number of books.