Library book returned nearly 50 years late escapes £4,000 fine thanks to amnesty

Late library book
The copy of Havelok the Warrior was returned to an East Sussex library nearly 50 years late. (SWNS)

Library bosses were left shocked when a book was returned - nearly 50 years late.

The copy of Havelok the Warrior by Ian Serraillier was due to be returned to the library in Hastings, East Sussex, by 14 April, 1975.

But instead it was only taken back this year as part of a seven-week book amnesty.

Luckily, the amnesty saw fines waived for any of the 750 books still not returned to East Sussex's libraries - otherwise the book could have racked up more than £4,000 in fines.

The council currently charges 25p each day a book is overdue, so even with fluctuation, the borrower could have been charged at least £4,300 had the amnesty not been in place.

It is estimated that the book - which was the longest overdue - was outstanding for some 17,520 days.

The book was returned to Hastings Library as part of an amnesty. (Google Maps)
The book was returned to Hastings Library as part of an amnesty. (Google Maps)

Havelok the Warrior is about an exiled warrior prince who fought to regain his throne to become king of both Denmark and England.

Councillor Claire Dowling, lead member for transport and environment at East Sussex County Council, said: “It’s wonderful to see these books returned to our libraries, and I would like to thank our residents for searching out any overdue items and for taking the time to return them to us.

“Unfortunately, every year nearly 5,000 books fail to be returned to East Sussex libraries.

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“The amnesty has seen many lost books return to our library shelves so books lovers can enjoy them once again.

“If, when items are due to be returned, borrowers are not quite ready to part with them they can easily be renewed. Items can be renewed in person at any East Sussex library or easily online.”

East Sussex County Council said following the amnesty, some 240 previously 'lost' books were re-loaned out to new customers.