Finn returns library book more than a century late

HELSINKI Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:01pm GMT

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Finnish library-goer apparently thought 'better late than never' and quietly returned a book on loan for more than 100 years to a library in Vantaa, in southern Finland.

The library had long since lost track of the loan but welcomed back to its collections the bound copy of a 1902 volume of Vartija, an active religious monthly periodical at the time.

"We are unclear when exactly it was borrowed and who returned it. There weren't any documents with it," librarian Minna Saastamoinen told Reuters.

"There is an old note attached to the book which says there is a fine of 10 pennies a week for late returns," she added.

The library sticker inside the cover, and the old-fashioned handwriting on it, showed the book was last officially loaned out at the beginning of the last century, she said.

Finland is known for a comprehensive library network with more than 900 libraries for its 5.3 million inhabitants. In 2006, each Finn on average visited a library 11 times and borrowed nearly 20 books.

The periodical was borrowed such a long time ago that the Korso branch of the Vantaa library, where the tome was finally handed in, did not even exist when the book was borrowed.

(Reporting by Sami Torma; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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