After keeping his favorite library book for 76 years, Mark McKee figured he owed his hometown library thousands of dollars in fines.
When McKee finally got up the courage to mail the book back, long with an apologetic letter, the library director did one better: He waived the late fee, and sent McKee a new copy of the book, “A Dog of Flanders,” written by English author Marie Louise de la Ramee.
“My conscience took over,” wrote McKee, who lives in Chandler, Ariz., according to a story by the Macomb Daily newspaper in Macomb County, MI.
McKee was 13 years old when he borrowed the book from the public library in Mount Clemens, MI. He fell in love immediately.
“I was entranced by the book and kept it with my prized possessions, intending to return it forthwith,” McKee wrote. “Thus began a 76-year odyssey of missed opportunity and intention.”
McKee later became publisher of the Macomb Daily. Occasionally he’d come across the borrowed book and think about returning it. He spent a good deal of time in the library as an adult and contributed money to it, becoming friends with Donald Worrell Jr., the library’s director.
Worrell says that instead of charging a late fee, he’ll put the book and McKee’s letter on display. And he mailed a new copy of the book to McKee.
“We figure the story is better than the money,” Worrell told the newspaper.