A long overdue library rental was finally returned to the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s central branch on Cathedral Street.
It arrived earlier this week, mailed in an envelope with no name and no return address. Inside was a piece of sheet music that had been missing from the Enoch Pratt Free Library for nearly 50 years, with a due date of June 12, 1975.
“It’s just a bit overdue, but we’re proud that it got returned to us,” library spokesperson Meghan McCorkell said.
McCorkell explained that it was so long ago they have no way to look up who checked out the sheet music. “The actual call numbers are from a system that we used decades ago,” McCorkell said.
Bill Jones, the manager of the fine arts department, noted that the piece itself is unique — a clarinet solo by Igor Stravinsky in pristine condition. The piece will now reside in the special collections department.
McCorkell mentioned that this isn’t the first time something was returned to the library after decades. Historical pieces like the one found this week are occasionally returned by family members after their loved ones have passed away.
Five years ago, Norma Scott returned a romance novel her mother checked out from the library in 1951.
“I knew that it belonged to the library so that is why I brought it back today. I thought, amnesty — they’re not going to charge me a fine from 1951, I hope,” Scott said.
The Enoch Pratt Free Library did away with fines in 2018. McCorkell emphasized that no matter how much time passes, things tend to find their way back home eventually.
“There was some skepticism when we went fine free that people would just keep things, and that was not the case at all. In fact, the year after we went fine free, we saw an 8.6% increase in returns,” McCorkell said. “It’s always really fun when we open up envelopes like this and [a] sort of relic of the past comes back to us.”
Overdue books can be returned to any of the 22 Pratt library locations across the city with no judgment or penalty.
WJZ is a media partner of The Baltimore Banner.