Peter Pereira/The Standard Times via AP
A few days, yes. A week, sure. A month, maybe. Plenty of overdue books are returned to libraries around the country. But 99 years?
A 75-year-old man from Mansfield walked into the New Bedford Public Library on Monday to return a book that was due in 1910.
Stanley Dudek returned the book, "Facts I Ought to Know about the Government of My Country" by William H. Bartlett, which was due on May 2, 1910. Dudek said he had found the book in his mother's possessions after she died in 1998 and didn't realize it was a library book until last year.
"I didn't feel I should keep it any longer. It belongs to the people and city of New Bedford, the government. felt it was my duty to get it back to the library," he said.
Fortunately for Dudek, the fine on the book -- about $360, he said, or a penny for each day overdue, which was the charge way back when -- was waived.
"My blood pressure will probably go down now," Dudek said.
Dudek said the book was given to his mother in 1922 after she had immigrated to Massachusetts from Poland. Dudek said she was taking night school classes, and assumes that someone gave her the book -- at that time, already over 12 years overdue -- to help her get used to her new country.
"For a person just becoming a citizen, it was the perfect book for her," Dudek said. "The book explained the basics of government." Dudek found the book after cleaning out her New Bedford home after her death in 1998. He packaged the book, amongst other belongings, to take to his Mansfield home. Opening the book last year to read a few pages, Dudek noticed it was a library book.
"I didn't think about returning it," Dudek said, but that changed recently, when the Globe and other news outlets ran stories about a man who had returned a library book that was 60 years overdue.
"I thought, 'I have 40 years on that guy!'" Dudek said, so he decided to return the book to the New Bedford library, which he said was the rightful owner.
"They were glad to have it back, they're going to have it on display," Dudek said. "I don't know if they'll let it be borrowed again."
New Bedford Library Director Steve Fulchino said the library is always happy to get books returned.
"We wouldn't have any circulation records from 1910 about who took out what," Fulchino said. "We're putting this one in our special collections department because it's an interesting historical artifact."
The book, which was printed in 1894, includes some anachronisms, saying, for example, that US senators are picked by state Legislatures, instead of being elected by the people.
"All kinds of information in this book is wrong, but some is right, and it's interesting to see what people learned back then," Fulchino said.
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