The person who checked out “New Chronicles of Rebecca” in 1911 can rest peacefully, as the Boise Public Library scrapped late fees for overdue books in 2019. Otherwise, the person would have owed around $800, because the library charged a fine of two cents per day, the library said on Facebook.
However, even in the early 20th century, the library never charged fines more than the cost of the book, said Anne Marie Martin, a library assistant at the main library.
“Books may be kept two weeks without renewal, unless otherwise labeled,” one of the book inserts said. The book’s checkout record showed it was due in November 1911, not 2021. It was listed as missing in 1912, Ms. Martin said.
Several library systems across the country have done away with overdue fines in recent years to encourage people to keep coming back.
“New Chronicles of Rebecca” was a sequel to the more popular 1903 novel “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” by Wiggin, an author, teacher and composer. The stories follow the life of Rebecca Rowena Randall, a cheerful Maine girl who was sent to live with her two aunts. “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” was made into a 1938 movie of the same name starring Shirley Temple.
It doesn’t appear that the copy of “New Chronicles of Rebecca” that was returned to the Boise library is rare. Eric E. Wiggin, a distant cousin of the author’s husband who wrote a third installment of the series, said in an interview that there were many early edition copies of the book in circulation. In fact, he has many himself.
“I’m trying to get rid of them,” said Mr. Wiggin, 82.
However, the library’s copy may be the only one with a book binding that says the author’s last name is “Wiggins.”