Book borrowed 60 years ago returned to Gainsborough library from Croatia

A book which was lent out in 1958 has been returned to Gainsborough Library

A book which was lent out in 1958 has been returned to Gainsborough Library - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

A book which spent more than 60 years checked out has been returned to Gainsborough Community Library in Ipswich. 

Staff at the library were surprised when a delivery arrived from Croatia, containing a long-lost book that had been loaned out in 1958. 

The book, a copy of The Loving Couple by Virginia Rowans, had ended up in the collection of one of Dubrovnik's libraries, which had reached out to return the book.

The front cover of the book returned from Croatia

The front cover of the book, The Loving Couple, returned from Croatia - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

The Loving Couple is split into two narratives telling "his story" and "her story", recounting their different perspectives on their married life in a humorous fashion. 

Virginia Rowan was a pen name for American author Patrick Dennis, who lived from 1921 to 1976 and was well known for writing Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade, which tells the story of a young lad who lives with his madcap aunt. 

Library and Information Advisor at Gainsborough Community Library with the book

Kim Risby, library and information advisor at Gainsborough Community Library with the book - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

Kim Risby, library and information advisor at Gainsborough Community Library, said:“It was such a surprise receiving a book back after all this time and from so far away, a really lovely gesture from our colleagues in Croatia.

"I was Googling away to make sure there wasn't another Gainsborough branch in a different Borough of Ipswich anywhere!

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“I've always felt, and I'm sure the rest of Suffolk Libraries agree, that it takes passion to work in libraries, and it's nice to know that that is a feeling shared by other librarians in other parts of the world.

“We'd also like to ask our customers to return their books a little bit before 60 years have passed!”

The date sheet showing the book was due to be returned on 30 July 1958

The date sheet showing the book was due to be returned on 30 July 1958 - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

A staff member at Dubrovnik Libraries wrote: “As her story continues, it is proper that the book goes the whole circle and returns from where her travel started. I feel it’s not up to us to decide how the journey ends.”

The copy of The Loving Couple travelled more than 1,000 miles to return to the library, with the building having been completely rebuilt since the book was first lent out.

This journey beats a book's recent return from Bungay to the Shetland Islands, after having been away from its shelf since 1983. The book was returned to Scotland by the Bungay Community Library Friends group during a visit to Shetland. 

The inside cover which helped Dubrovnik Libraries return the lost book

The inside cover which helped Dubrovnik Libraries return the lost book - Credit: Suffolk Libraries