A book's long, long way home

  • Book's homecomingWilliamsburg Regional Library Circulation Assistant, Jacqueline McMichaels (l) checks in a book Pat Harking '75 (c) returned Friday 35 years overdue. The book was in excellent condition and even had its original library card. It was only missing its plastic dust cover.Fellow alum Bob Stohnner (r) looks on.

    Photo by Suzanne Seurattan

    Book's homecoming

When Pat Harkin graduated from William & Mary in 1975 he took a little bit of Williamsburg with him. As a student, Harkin checked out a book from the Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL). He returned it Oct. 22 - 35 years overdue.

Harkin said he meant to return the book before he left campus following graduation but it slipped his mind.  Still, over the many years and during numerous moves – Chicago, New York, Texas, back to New York, Virginia – he kept hold of it.

“I’d rediscover it every few years and say ‘someday when I go back to Williamsburg I’m going to bring this back,’ so we finally did,” he said.

Harkin, a marketing director for Deloitte & Touche, was in Williamsburg last weekend to celebrate Homecoming. Returning the book, “QBVII” by Leon Uris, was a first order of business. He noted getting the book home was a weight off of his mind.

“I won’t have to continue with my therapy,” he quipped.

Using the 1975 late fine of a nickel per day, the 35 year total would be some $685 (though the Library caps book fins at $35) but WRL provided amnesty.

“We think it is wonderful that someone would carry a piece of the library for 35 years and have it weigh on his conscience for that amount of time and think enough of us to actually bring it back ,” said Patrick Golden, program support director for the Williamsburg Regional Library.

Still Harkin presented the Library with a donation – though not quite $685 he admitted.
Despite the relief a finally getting the book back where it belonged, relinquishing it was a little bitter sweet.

“There’s just a nice connection between all of us and the College and the town,” he said. “Lots of people have a connection to their schools, but do they have a connection to their schools AND the town they are in? I think it is really different here. Having that little piece of Williamsburg for 35 years has been great, but to finally surrender it and make restitution feels pretty good.”