In fine condition: Library book on Goya returned 50 years overdue


LIBRARY bosses have waived a £2700 fine for a book handed in more than 50 years late.

David Black handed in his copy of Goya by Dr Xavier de Salas, to the Fine Art Library in Edinburgh during an amnesty last month.

Writer David had borrowed the book on September 22 1962, and says it simply slipped his mind to ever hand it back.

David Black handed in his book 50 years late
David Black handed in his book 50 years late


The book was overdue for a total of 18,417 days, which according to Edinburgh Council’s 15p-a-day fees structure would have meant a bill of £2,762.55.

A cap of £10 is now imposed on overdue books in Edinburgh libraries.

The book traces the life of the Spanish artist, and David, 60, had borrowed it using his mother Winnie Black’s ticket.

Despite several reminders from the library to hand back the book it took the amnesty, which saw more than 4,000 books returned, to prompt David to hand it back in.

He said: “I was only a schoolboy at the time and completely forgot to return it.

“It would pop up every now and again over the years but each time it would slip my mind to actually do it.

“Two years ago I even attended a showing of the play Underneath the Lintel which is about a librarian who sets out to find out whoever anonymously returned a library book that is 113 years overdue.

David was only a schoolboy when he borrowed the book
David was only a schoolboy when he borrowed the book


“When I read about the fines amnesty I decided that I must do it, once and for all, if only to see the librarian’s face.

“It feels good to have finally returned it after all these years.”

The city-wide Edinburgh libraries’ amnesty ran for one week starting on 9 February, and bosses were shocked to see more than 4,000 books handed in.

David, who has worked as an arts correspondent for several national newspapers, said: “I’ve been a keen library user all my life, they are a great resource.

“As a boy I drew great inspiration from this book which features a host of Goya’s illustrations; although I never intended to keep it for long.

“I’m glad they finally have their book back – I can now sleep a little more soundly at night.”



David added: “It was in a box in the attic until about ten years ago.

“We were moving house and it got put in with other stuff.

“I put it on a self and left it there. I just never got round to handing it back.

“I went in to the library to return another book and they said there was an amnesty on.

“It raised eyebrows when I handed it back, they were pretty astonished.”

David’s book is not the most over due book ever to be returned to a library.

In December 2011 Good Words for 1888 was returned after 123 yearsafter being borrowed from the now-defunct Troutbeck Institute library.

At 10p a day the fine would have been almost £4,500, but Cumbria libraries now cap their fines at £6.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s culture and sport convener, said: “This is a wonderful story and, of course, the Fine Art Library are very happy to have their book back after 50 years!

“The fines amnesty for National Libraries Day has proven a real success. We’ve been delighted at how many people have taken the opportunity to come back into their local library.”