Carlton resident returns library book 68 years later 

Carlton resident returns library book 68 years later 
Brendan Rees

A library book borrowed in 1955 has finally made its way back to the State Library of Victoria, in what senior librarian Tom Vasey described as a “big surprise”. 

The book, A History of Malvern, was a staggering 24,853 days overdue when Graeme Coulson of Carlton made the unexpected return on June 8.   

Mr Coulson found the book while clearing out his late mother’s home in Echuca.  

“I’ve only been at the library for a few years, but I’d never heard of this happening before so I wasn’t sure what to do,” Mr Vasey said.

“When Graeme came up to the ‘ask a librarian desk’ saying he had a book to return, I was ready to explain that we are a research and reference library and why you can’t take books out of the building.”

“It was a big surprise to learn that this book was from the former lending collection and had been on loan for almost 70 years.”

Mr Coulson’s mother, a historian who died last year at the age of 103, was a regular visitor to the library. 

Mr Vasey said upon inspecting the book, he was fascinated to see the lending library’s slips in the back explaining the rules for borrowing in the 1950s.   

“It shows that it’s not just the content of books that tell stories, this book also captures part of the library’s history and Helen’s connection to the library as well.”

And to Mr Coulson’s relief, the library was forgiving in not issuing a penalty for the book’s late return, which, if calculated today, would be estimated at just under $12,000. •

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