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BROUGHT TO BOOK; Queen's Prof returns library's poetry volume 47 years late.. and has PS8,500 fine scrapped.

Byline: STEPHEN MCVEY n.ireland@mirror.co.uk

A UNIVERSITY professor has been let off the hook for a book fine of more than PS8,500.

Emeritus Professor John "Jack" Foster, from Queen's University Belfast's Institute of Irish Studies, recently discovered he was in possession of a library book that was 47 years overdue.

The scholar found the book by Arthur Hugh Clough, a Victorian poet, while clearing out his locker at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he previously worked.

He explained: "I saw it also had a stamp saying Queen's had obtained the book in May 1921 so it was definitely their book and it was 47 years late, so outrageously overdue.

"Fines from the McClay Library are 50p per day for their seven-night loans so I was looking at a steep bill.

"I had been a fan of Clough's, whom I had always thought of as an underrated poet overshadowed by Whitman, Browning and others, but I had left Queen's by that time and was at the University of Oregon as a doctoral student." The book still had a due date stamp of October 11, 1966 but Queen's insisted it was just pleased to get the book back and would not be looking for Prof Foster to stump up the PS8,577.50 fine.

Prof Foster also had some words of wisdom for fellow forgetful bookworms.

He said: "I suppose the moral of the story is if you discover an overdue book make sure it's really, really overdue before you think about returning it."

There was a mixed reaction to the news on Twitter with one Belfast man saying: "It would be a different story if it was a student."

UK figures last year revealed universities had raised almost PS50million by fining students for overdue library books, but most tend to be waived once they reach a certain amount.

The Guinness Book of Records said the largest library fine to be paid was PS203.29 for the poetry book Days And Deeds.

It was taken out of an American Public Library in 1955 by Emily Canellos-Simms, who came across it in her mother's house 47 years later and returned it, along with a cheque for the fine.

Fines from McClay Library are 50p per day so I was looking at a steep bill PROF JOHN FOSTER

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CHECK IT JOUT Last stamp in 1966

PAGE RETURNER n Prof John Jack Foster leaves back the library book at Queen's University Belfast
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 17, 2013
Words:416
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