No penalty for returning classic Oscar Wilde book to Chicago library, 78 years overdue

Cover of Lippincott's Magazine in July 1890, which contained the first version of Oscar Wilde's only published novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray"
(CBS) CHICAGO - When the Chicago Public Library announced its first amnesty in 20 years, it didn't expect to get back a rare classic.

But the library also didn't know that the daughter of a patron had found a copy of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" that had been checked out in 1934. She just wanted to be sure that if she turned it in now, she wouldn't go to jail, reports CBS Chicago.

Library Commissioner Brian Bannon says the daughter of a late patron found the book in an attic years ago. After worrying about fines and punishment, she took advantage of the amnesty, he says.

"We know that sometimes people feel bad about late fines, and it keeps them from using the library," Bannon says. "This is as much about getting patrons back as it is about getting materials back."

As for other long-overdue treasures still owed the library, Bannon says there could still be some out there.

"The record-keeping in that area was not as good as it is today," he says.

The amnesty runs through Sept. 7.

  • Barry Leibowitz


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