Dutch man returns library book after nearly 40 years

Dutch man returns library book after nearly 40 years

Nearly 40 years after he had borrowed it, Jos Roelofs finally returned his copy of “Back to Oegstgeest” to his local library on Monday. The 59-year-old read the book for school and only recently rediscovered it when clearing out his attic.

Only 40 years late

Exactly 39 years, 13 weeks and 5 days after it had been checked out, a certain copy of “Back to Oegstgeest” by Jan Wolkers has been returned to the library it had been borrowed from in Groesbeek.

The book should have been returned on March 5, 1981, and the library has calculated that it had accrued 1.530,75 euros worth of library fines. Luckily though, the library only applies a maximum fine of 5 euros, so Mr Roelofs will not have to pay the full fine. “I was still in doubt whether I would throw it in the bin," he said. "But I brought it back anyway. It seemed so neat. If I had to pay such a fine, I would pick it up again and throw it in the bin."

Roelofs had borrowed the book when he had to read it for school, which he suspects was compulsory. “I probably haven’t even read it. You don’t get this book for fun,” he said. 

Return of the book

On returning the book to the library, the librarians didn’t realise the book was actually 39 years late. "They told me to put it in the service cabinet for late return. I'm saying it's a little past its date. Thirty years. But they thought I was kidding and said they would put it back with the other books,” said Roelof. “Of course, the book does not contain a chip, so I didn't think that would be possible. They did not have this system in the eighties. Then I just went."

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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