Missing Library Book Returned . . . After 145 Years

I suppose libraries have just about always had trouble with overdue and missing books. 

Medieval monasteries came up with my favorite solution:  chaining the books to the shelves (or desks) where they were housed.  I doubt we’ll ever do that here at Greensboro Public Library, but I did see an old book case in an antique shop in Asheville once that had a place for a metal bar which ran the length of each shelf; I’m pretty sure the bar was for attaching chains — always have regretted not buying that bookcase!

Anyway, ponder the curious story of the Washington & Lee University volume that went astray during the Civil War and only just found its way back home — after 145 years!  A Yankee soldier nabbed it during a raid in 1864; it had remained with his family and descendants all this time.  An antiquarian book seller in Tryon, North Carolina, named Harry Goodheart (and also a Washington & Lee alumnus) learned of the book and facilitated its return.  It was volume one of a four volume set called History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France by W.F.P. Napier.  Amazingly, the university library still owned volume two.  What a happy reunion it must have been! 

By the way, Washington & Lee library staff estimate the late fees (if charged) would be in excess of $52,000!  Now, if you’re holding some overdue Greensboro Public Library books, let this be a cautionary tale. . . .


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