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Book borrowed over 60 years ago returned to Gainsborough Library from Croatia

Suffolk Libraries, the charity which runs the county’s library service, recently had a pleasant surprise when a long-lost book was returned to a library in Ipswich.

Staff at Gainsborough Community Library in Ipswich received a surprise delivery from Croatia recently when a book which was borrowed more than 60 years ago found its way back to the library.

A copy of The Loving Couple by Virginia Rowans was loaned from Gainsborough Community Library in 1958 and ended up in Dubrovnik Libraries in Croatia. Dubrovnik Libraries kindly reached out and returned the book, which is still in good condition.

The Loving Couple, written by American author Patrick Dennis under the pen name of Virginia Rowans, is split into two narratives, ‘her story’ and ‘his story’, both recounting two perspectives of the humorous life of a married couple.

The book remains in good condition even after travelling over 1000 miles.
The date sheet shows the book was due to be returned on 30 July 1958.

Kim Risby, Library and Information Advisor at Gainsborough Community Library, said:

“It was such a surprise receiving a book back after all this time and from so far away, a really lovely gesture from our colleagues in Croatia. I was Googling away to make sure there wasn't another Gainsborough branch in a different Borough of Ipswich anywhere!

“I've always felt, and I'm sure the rest of Suffolk Libraries agree, that it takes passion to work in libraries, and it's nice to know that that is a feeling shared by other librarians in other parts of the world.

“We'd also like to ask our customers to return their books a little bit before 60 years have passed!”

This beats the journey made by a book originally borrowed from Shetland Library in 1983 which turned up last year at Bungay Library. The book was returned to its home in Scotland last year by the Chair of the Bungay Community Library Friends group during a visit to Shetland - an impressive 750 mile distance.

A staff member Dubrovnik Libraries, who returned the book to Gainsborough Community Library, wrote in a letter:

“As 'her story' continues, it is proper that the book goes the whole circle and returns from where her travel started. I feel it’s not up to us to decide how the journey ends.”

The book has travelled over 1,000 miles back to the library. Since the book was borrowed, the library has been completely rebuilt with a new facility opening in 2003.

The inside cover of the book, which helped Dubrovnik Libraries reunite Gainsborough Library with their lost copy.
Gainsborough Library staff member Kim Risby.