It took 33 years for this book to be returned to the library

A copy of J. D. Salinger’s 1951 classic “Catcher in the Rye” has been returned to a Winnipeg library – three decades after its original return date.

Jennifer Walton said the book was due back in November 1990 to the St. Vital Library, but that never happened.

“The fall of 1990 I had just started Grade 12 at Glenlawn Collegiate across the street and we read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ and I must have enjoyed it because it seems I hung onto it,” laughed Walton.

She said the book was discovered after she and her husband did some cleaning in the basement.

“We came across a box that was labelled in my mother’s handwriting that just said, ‘Jen’s books.’ And I opened the box, started going through them and came across this one and then opened the cover and discovered to my horror it was actually a library book and not my book.”

After discovering the book, Walton said she made a post online and was informed by many of her friends that she could still return the book as there was no late fee for it anymore.

The checkout slip from the Catcher in the Rye novel recently returned to a Winnipeg library. (CTV News Photo Ken Gabel)

“Then I got a very strong message from a friend who is a librarian, who said, ‘If you don’t take that back we are not friends anymore,'” Walton laughed. “Donna, we can still be friends (the book) is here in the library.”

The following week, Walton said she returned the book and also brought a box of chocolates for the people at the library to apologize for the 33-year inconvenience.

Barbara Bourrier-Lacroix, a spokesperson for the library, said it is rare to see books this old returned after so many years.

“It doesn’t happen very often. Last time was this past summer, we had someone return a book that was 48 years overdue. A few years ago, we had someone who returned this book that was 50 years overdue,” said Bourrier-Lacroix. “We are always happy to get them back.”

She said there can a variety of reasons why books end up being gone for so long, ranging from reasons like Walton’s to cleaning out a family member’s house and finding an old book.

When those books eventually do make it back to the library, Bourrier-Lacroix said there is no fine associated with the return. The fine used to be capped at $11, but that was removed at the beginning of 2021.

“We’re happy we got the book back and we’re happy that more people are coming back to the library because overdue fines can be a real barrier for the people who need the library the most and now they feel comfortable coming back to the library.”

In Walton’s case, she can still read ‘Catcher in the Rye’ if she wants, as she said she has her own copy of the book as well.

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