Book returned to Hawaii library nearly 48 years overdue

  • Patrick Powers holds up two copies of his overdue library book. (Courtesy Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU — A cookbook overdue from the Waikiki-Kapahulu Public Library was recently returned — nearly 50 years after it was borrowed.

Patrick Powers, an energetic teacher from Sacramento, California, and frequent Hawaii visitor, spent his honeymoon in Hawaii in 1971. He and his wife both found jobs and decided to live here.

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Powers said he applied for a library card and borrowed “Hawaii Cooks,” by Maili Yardley, from the Waikiki-Kapahulu branch, which stamped the due date as Oct. 21, 1971.

When he moved back to the mainland, the book went with him. Powers, now 73, said he forgot about it until he recently found it in an old box at home. Since it was water-damaged, he bought a new copy on amazon.com and planned to drop both off at the library on his next vacation to Hawaii.

He followed through on June 27. As Powers walked into the Waikiki-Kapahulu library, he greeted the security guard with a “Mahalo!” and said to no one in particular, “I love going to libraries.”

At the return desk, he found branch manager Mysti LePage on duty.

“Are you a librarian? I’m doing a return — it’s overdue,” he said, opening the original book and pointing to the due date.

“From 1971? I don’t think we want it back,” LePage said.

Powers then explained the situation and revealed the newer copy.

Current overdue fines are 25 cents per day, but fortunately for Powers, there’s a $7.50 maximum. Otherwise he might have been looking at $4,354 in late fees.

Grateful the borrower went to the trouble of bringing back the cookbook, along with a new copy, LePage waived any penalties.

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“They don’t have an arrest order out for me. … I’m walking out of here free,” Powers joked as he left the library. “I’m free. I am free.”

Powers thought “Hawaii Cooks,” which was published in 1970, would go right back into circulation at the Waikiki-Kapahulu branch, but Stacie Kaneshige, director of the Public Libraries Branch, said the book’s new home will be the Kapolei Library, a relatively new branch that she said serves an audience that would be more interested in “older Hawaiian materials.”

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