Letter: Library fines for 145 years add up to . . .

Sir: In your front-page footnote article today, the panel of 3,000 librarians, asked what was the most overdue book to be returned, could only speak from their own experience ('Welsh readers favour safe sex between the covers', 18 May).

But, more widely, Stephen Pile's The Book of Heroic Failures mentions that the most overdue library book was a copy of Dr J. Currie's Febrile Diseases. It was taken out of the University of Cincinnati Medical Library in 1823 by Mr M. Dodd and returned on 7 December 1968 by his great-grandson.

And are the 3,000 librarians aware that a copy of Carlyle's Chartism borrowed from the Oxford Union library 98 years ago has finally been returned?

The only clue to the book's fate during the past century is a note on the flyleaf: 'Thrown out of a train at Yeovil Junction by someone in the 6.45am down train on 7.5.53.'

Yours faithfully,


House of Lords

London, SW1

18 May