A customer at the Courtenay public library is being spared a hefty late fee after a book was mysteriously returned 42 years overdue.

The book, titled Wilderness Adventure, somehow found its way into the return slot at the Vancouver Island Regional Library this week, more than four decades after it was borrowed.

“When I came to this one, I picked it up and looked at it and there was no barcode,” said library worker Anne Judson. “So then I opened the cover and looked inside and here’s the little paper pocket with the paper card in it.” 

Judson said the library does not have a system that can track who returned the book nor who borrowed it so long ago.

The book was originally borrowed from the Union Bay library branch in 1977.

“It could have changed hands so many times.”

The library caps overdue fines at $10. The fine for this particular book would otherwise reach more than $4,500.

However, the library says that in this particular case all fines will be dropped should the original borrower or their family wish to come forward.

Library staff have created a Facebook contest where the public is encouraged to create a story about what the book has been up to all these years.