Home > Contemplations > New York Public Library: I Have A Slightly Overdue Book…

New York Public Library: I Have A Slightly Overdue Book…


The other day I found this book – no I am not getting into where – and just by the look of it I knew this tome was OLD.
Yes, it does say it is a book of the Complete Works of William Shakesepeare but I wasn’t ready to believe it was THAT old. But how old was it? And where has it been in its life?

I opened it up to see if I could find a copyright or published on date and lo and behold I found something much, much better!


As you can see in the picture this book had a computer punch card, wow they were quaint back then! When is “back then”? The due date of the book “June 23, 1971” – is exactly 40 years ago today!

Also if you look to the right of the punch card, on the punch card pocket there’s a note sticker that says a “fine will be charged for each overdue book at the rate of 10 cents per calendar day for adult books…” Given that it has been exactly FORTY YEARS since the book’s due date that’s:

40 (years) * 365 (days in a year) = 14,600 (days this book is overdue).

Multiply 14,600 by $0.10 for each day and you get….

This of course assumes that the fine remained constant which it may not have because I just checked the NYPL website and adult books are charged at $0.25 per day currently.

I have to bring this book back and see what they say to me. Will they try and charge me for the late fees? I’d like to see them try and prove that I – a 30 year old – should be responsible for a book that was due 10 years before I was born! Next time I go to New York City I know I am definitely going to have to stop in by the library. Mid-Manhattan Library: Literature & Language Department at 5th Ave & 42nd St here I come!

(Although according to your website you are now the “Stephen A. Schwarzman Building”.)

I wonder if the book is still on file? I wonder if they’ll even take it back!

  1. June 24, 2011 at 12:34 am

    That’s awesome… now stop robbing old people…

    • October 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      Haha, the old people robbed the NYPL first…and they weren’t old when they did it!

  2. Alina
    October 27, 2011 at 10:17 am

    can you please post an update as to what happened? Did you ever try returning this book?

    • October 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment Alina. As an update of the current state of affairs with this book: I haven’t yet been to New York City since the writing of this post so there is no update. The closest I made it was my weekend in Syracuse which is a good 4 hours away from NYC.
      However, I assure you that I will be providing an update on what happened with it after the next time I go to New York.

    • May 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Alina, thought that you’d want to know I finally returned the book: https://levynewsnetwork.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/return-book-library-after-40-years/

  1. April 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm

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