Overdue book returned to NYC library 38 years late

Let’s book him!

Library clerk Olga Estevez holds,”The Woman in the White House” a book that was borrowed from the Tomkins Public library in 1979.R. Umar Abbasi

A middle-aged mystery man strolled into the Tompkins Square Library Thursday saying he’d like to return “The Woman in the White House” by Marianne Means.

The due date? June 16, 1979 — or 13,935 days ago.

“I was like, wow!” library clerk Olga Estevez, 60, told The Post. “He just said he found the book. I didn’t ask him any questions. He wanted to know if the book was in the system and I said, ‘No, this is from 1979!’ He wanted to know if it can be put back into the system, because it was a good book. He said he was sorry it was late and just left,” Estevez explained.

Reached at her Washington home, author Means, 83, was not moved that someone had held onto her tome for nearly four decades. “That’s their problem!” she growled, and hung up the phone.

The rogue reader would have owed $3,483.75 if the library had whacked him with the 25-cents-per-day fine.

However, adult book fines actually top out at $12. But once a book is deemed lost, the patron is responsible for the replacement cost of the book, library officials said.

“Every book is different. In this case, as the book is no longer in our system, we don’t know what the replacement cost would have been,” Library spokeswoman Angela Montefinise told The Post. “When a patron accumulates fines of $15 or more, he or she can no longer check out books.”

Books considered lost make up less than 1 percent of the 8.7 million items in its circulating collection, Montefinise said. Offenders often remain anonymous, simply tossing old books in an outdoor drop box. Since the book’s withdrawal predated the library’s automation system, there was no record it had been taken out.

Estevez said she’s heard every excuse in the book for a late return, from “I lost it in my apartment,” to “I left it in the car…

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