2019 | News

Long Overdue Book Returned to Silver Spring Library

Children’s book was checked out 73 years ago

"The Postman" by Charlotte Kuh, recently returned by a Toronto woman.

Montgomery County Public Libraries

A children’s book detailing the various ways mail is carried throughout the world recently completed its own lengthy journey, returning to Silver Spring Library after 73 years.

Mora Gregg of Toronto sent a package to the library in January containing “The Postman,” apologizing for the long overdue book checked out by her mother in 1946. The Greggs lived in on Piney Branch Road in Washington, D.C., but moved to Canada abruptly, taking the book.

Gregg was a librarian for two decades in Winnipeg, up until 10 years ago.

“We’re notorious for having overdue books,” Gregg said in a telephone interview.

“The Postman,” by Charlotte Kuh, was published in 1929. Gregg’s copy had already been repaired by black tape by the time her mother checked it out, but the book remains in fairly good condition, said Anita Vassallo, the acting director of Montgomery County Public Libraries.

“I’ve been working for the library over 40 years, nothing that has come back to us of this age,” Vassallo said. “It’s kind of remarkable that this little book that was published in 1929 has held up and it’s been in somebody’s hands and loved all that time and now it’s made its way back to us.”

The book was checked out before the county libraries were united under a countywide system and Silver Spring has had three locations since then.

Gregg has kept the book since it was checked out, but said she isn’t getting any younger and figured the time had come to give it back for safekeeping.

“When you hit a certain age, you start downsizing and sending things to people you think should have them,” Gregg said.

Vassallo said no previous cases compare to the book’s return. A former Rockville resident returned a book about camping a few years back that had been checked out in the 1970s.

The library doesn’t charge overdue fees in those situations, but the man included a donation which the library used to buy new camping books.

The library system hasn’t decided what to do with “The Postman” and it’s being held in the administrative office. The libraries don’t have an historical collection, but might display the book in some fashion, Vassallo said.

Gregg chose to finally let go of the book because there’s a copy in the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books in the Toronto Public Library, according to her letter.

“If I want to read the book again, I can always go there,” Gregg said.