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Man returns library book he needed to fix car after 47 yrs with apology note: 'You might want it back'

The sender also attached some money with the note to help buy a replacement copy.

Man returns library book he needed to fix car after 47 yrs with apology note: 'You might want it back'
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Washington Count Library

An automobile repair handbook finally found its way back to a library in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, when a former patron sent it back after nearly five decades with an apology note. The book—Chilton's Foreign Car Repair Manual: German, Swedish, Italian Cars, Vol. 1—which was checked out in 1975, also came with some money to help buy a replacement copy. According to New York Post, the borrower's apology note read: "It's a little overdue, but I thought you might want it back. My apologies to anyone in Lake Elmo who was working on an old Benz in the last 47 years."

In a "wise" move, according to local news station WREG Memphis, he returned it anonymously and through the mail, "thereby avoiding the disapproving glare of any librarians at the front desk." The unnamed person also gave a justification for keeping the book for almost fifty years. "In the mid-1970s, I was living in Lake Elmo and I was working on an old Mercedes-Benz. I took this book out for reference," the individual wrote. "A few months later, I moved and apparently the book got packed up. Forty-seven years later I found it in the trunk with other interesting things from the 70s." The Washington County Library System posted about the tardiness on social media, expressing its happiness to receive the book back and letting the borrower know there will be no late penalties.


"Lake Elmo Library recently received a package with an overdue book from the 1970s! It came with a thoughtful letter and a donation to purchase a replacement title. The writer was also concerned about any overdue fees, but since we don't charge those it's no problem, we're just glad to have the book back," they wrote. Although the sender also attached $200 with the note and the book, for Karen Rodricks—the Senior Library Services Supervisor at Washington County Library—the story behind the book's unexpected return is more valuable. "This is the prize: the note," Rodricks said.

According to the letter, the borrower discovered the book in a trunk 47 years later, along with other items they hadn't seen since the 1970s. Since Washington County Libraries have other copies of the manual at other branches, the money sent by the former patron will be reinvested back into the Lake Elmo Library.

Libraries have been a core part of communities for ages and have helped millions of people over the years. In March 2022, a child highlighted how important libraries are and how they make our lives better. Amy Milstead, the librarian at a Texas high school, was left in tears after the child handed her a sealed package containing a heartwarming note. The letter, signed by Reginae, praised the librarian by quoting American author Barbara Kingsolver. Sharing the note on Twitter, Milstead wrote: "I'm speechless. Delivered in a sealed envelope and she ran before I could read it."


The note read: "I'm of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved. The truly amazing school librarian is hard to find difficult to part with and impossible to forget."

The child concluded the note with one of her own quotes, emphasizing the doors the library had opened for her. "When you enter this library you are a scientist, you are an explorer, you are a reader, you are important, you are loved, you are respected, you are the reason we are here," she wrote.

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