Friday, September 2, 2011

Returning a 14-years overdue library book

It took a decade-and-a-half, but I have finally completed a long-postponed good deed.

Sometime in the fall of 1997, while attending Humboldt State University, I was riding the bus from Eureka back to my Arcata home when I found a book on the floor. It was a tome entitled, “The Philosophy of Nietzsche” (left) and markings clearly identified it as belonging to the library at College of the Redwoods.

I briefly perused the book, loosely browsing Nietzsche’s musings on “Man vs. Superman” and learned “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” came from the German philosopher’s writings.

There were no other passengers in my area of bus to whom it might belong, so I thought I’d hold onto the book until the next time I got down to College of the Redwoods, about seven miles south of Eureka. Having recently visited there, I thought it would be just a few weeks until I got back.

It turns out that being a poor, carless student with a full load of classes at HSU meant I never returned to the small community college while I lived on the North Coast. Nietzsche’s book was eventually integrated into my personal library’s philosophy section, with the vague understanding that I would return it if ever I got the chance. After graduation, I visited the Arcata-Eureka area a few times, but I was on very tight timelines or just plain forgot every time.

The guilt built each time I saw the book on my shelf.

Flash-forward to this week. My sister, who lives in the backwoods of Humboldt County, had a baby (a boy) in Eureka on Wednesday and I planned a visit. I decided to take the opportunity to return the book, which I had found again and set aside during a recent book purge at my house.

After some searching around the construction-plagued campus (below), I finally found the library and asked for a senior librarian. I was introduced to “Tim,” to whom I explained the situation.

I apologized to Tim for having held onto the book for 14 years and lamented the fact that some poor student had probably paid for the book a decade previous. He seemed a bit bemused.

“Better late than never,” Tim said. “It’s been on a journey.”

The library staff thanked me and I left campus a slightly happier man. Returning lost items gives me joy. It’s a shame, however I still haven’t reunited the camera I found at Comic-Con with its owners.

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