German language book returned to Scottish library - 70 years late

A textbook has finally been returned to a school library in Aberdeen – more than 70 years late.

Peterhead Academy

The battered copy of the German language primer Sprechen Sie Deutsch! was borrowed by a pupil at Peterhead Academy around the time of the Second World War.

It was returned to the school library last Thursday by relatives after a house clearance.

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The exact date the book was borrowed is not known.

The book was published in 1935 and first loaned by the school in 1942, but part of the “date due” panel has been ripped out. The inside of the book states it is the property of the Council of the County of Aberdeen’s Education Committee and the pupil to whom it has been issued will be held responsible for its safe keeping and required to replace it if ever lost or damaged.

An Aberdeenshire Library service spokeswoman said: “A book was returned to Peterhead Academy Library last Thursday. That’s not an unusual occurrence, other than that the book, Sprechen Sie Deutsch! by Oscar Burkhard, published in 1935, was taken out by a pupil in the 1940s.

“Unfortunately the issue sheet on the inside cover has been ripped, so we don’t have an exact date. A family returned it to the school, having been clearing out a relative’s house and had decided to return it to the library.

“It looks well used, with notes in pencil in the margins.”

The discovery is the latest in a series of overdue books across the North-east finally being returned decades after they were due – but looks likely to take the record for the longest overdue date.

Staff at Aberdeen Central library were left in “disbelief” after a book that had been overdue for 65 years was ­finally returned.

The copy of A Window in Thrums by Peter Pan author JM Barrie had last been seen on the Central Library’s shelves back in 1954.

The book was spotted by a member of the public in a charity shop in London and was then posted back to stunned staff at the city centre library.

The finder of the book was discharged of having to pay the late fees – estimated at around £1,500.

JM Barrie’s book is one of several he set around the fictional village of Thrums, which he is believed to have loosely based on Kirriemuir in Angus from where he originally hailed.

Last year a book was returned to Ferryhill Library 40 years after it was due to be returned.

The crime thriller A Touch of Danger was borrowed from Aberdeen Central Library four decades ago and stamped with an original due date of 
12 December, 1978.