Checked out in February 1904, a copy of “An Elementary Treatise on Electricity” by James Clerk Maxwell made its way back to the New Bedford Free Public Library in Massachusetts 119 years later.

“This came back in extremely good condition,” New Bedford Public Library Director Olivia Melo told The Associated Press. “Someone obviously kept this on a nice bookshelf because it was in such good shape and probably got passed down in the family.”

Stewart Plein, a curator of rare books at West Virginia University Libraries, found the book while looking through a box of donated books, per AP. While the book wasn’t rare, he saw in the book’s stamp that it wasn’t marked “withdrawn” or removed from the library. So he sent it back to its original home.

Melo said that while she has occasionally seen books 10 or 15 years overdue make their way back to the library, this one due over a century ago is a rarity, per AP.

It even outdates an overdue book returned to the Boise, Idaho, main library in November 2021 that was 110 years overdue, as reported by The New York Times.

The written word, Melo told AP, is invaluable.

“The value of the printed book is it’s not digital, it’s not going to disappear. Just holding it, you get the sense of someone having this book 120 years ago and reading it, and here it is in my hands,” she said. “It is still going to be here a hundred years from now. The printed book is always going to be valuable.”

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