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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Library book returned after 24 years
Library shelves
Librarians had long forgotten about the book
Librarians are always hearing wild, wonderful and flimsy excuses for the late return of books.

But former student Mohamed Bokreta could only write of his "juvenile and youthful wicked whims" after returning a book to South Thames College in London after 24 years.

The book - Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century, by Eric R Wolf - had been long assumed lost after it was taken out in 1977.

I am seeking both apologies and pardon from my dear friends, the respected college principal and his brave librarian staff

Mohamed Bokreta
But staff were flabbergasted to see the book returned in a parcel with an Algerian postmark and a written apology from Mr Bokreta.

In his letter to the college, he blamed his lateness on "juvenile and youthful wicked whims".

He said had been thinking earnestly about the afterlife and was preparing himself by "putting aside all signs of greed, selfishness, ego and lust".

He added: "I am seeking both apologies and pardon from my dear friends, the respected college principal and his brave librarian staff."

'Mint condition'

Elaine Williamson, manager of the college learning centre, said: "The package went round the building for a bit and then arrived on my desk - I was amazed to see it had been sent from Algeria.

"The book is in perfect, mint condition - I'm sure we have probably got records of it but it was prior to computerisation so it would be on little brown cards."

The centre charges 20p a week for overdue books - which would amount to a fine of about 250 for Mr Bokreta.

But the college is likely to recognise his honesty and waive the fine.

See also:

10 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
Robo-librarian books late returners
02 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Rare book returned to library
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