A BOOK has been returned to Dunfermline Library ... 73 YEARS overdue!

Staff at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (DCL&G) were astounded – and delighted – to see their copy of Stately Timber, by Robert Hughes, more than seven decades since it was loaned out.

The book came with a letter from the borrower's daughter who couldn't shed light on why it was never brought back.

The adventure story, set in Boston, USA, should have been returned to what was the Dunfermline Public Libraries’ Central Library in Abbot Street on November 6, 1948.

It came back by post from Cromarty almost 73 years to the day later.

“I burst our laughing when I opened the parcel, I couldn’t believe it,” said Donna Dewar, a cultural services assistant at the DCL&G, from Dunfermline.

“We had a book returned to our Rosyth branch after 14 years recently, which we thought was amazing enough, but this was way beyond anything we’ve heard of.

“For a bit of fun, we worked out how much could have been due in fees and it comes to a whopping £2,847!

“It arrived with a lovely letter from the borrower’s daughter who was able to give us a bit of detail.”

The sender explained that her late father had lived in Thornton in 1948 but whether he had just been a 20-year-old with other things on his mind at the time and forgot to return it or whether he chose to keep it, she would never know.

Touchingly, following on from last week’s Remembrance Day, she also wrote: “I find it fascinating to see the dates of when this book was taken out, during the latter year of WW2 and that the war ended between stamps marked by librarians. Life goes on around momentous historical events."

Christine McLean, OnFife’s head of cultural heritage and wellbeing, said they were thrilled to have received the book – especially as this week is Book Week Scotland.

"We look forward to finding a special place to display the book, and the story of its journey, in our Local Studies section at DCL&G,” she added.

The OnFife Libraries book is certainly in the running for one of the most overdue returned to a public library in the UK.

Earlier this year, the BBC reported an overdue library book had been returned to Newcastle’s central library nearly 63 years late.

The Guinness World record for the most overdue library book returned is held by one returned to Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, England, that was borrowed in 1668 and returned 288 years later.

In July this year, a 1704 edition of the 1688 book, The Faith and Practice of a Church of England-Man was sent to Sheffield Cathedral, England, around 300 years after it was checked out of the cathedral's library and 200 years after the library itself was dismantled.