‘Better late than never!’: A library book that had been overdue for over 60 years has been returned.

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‘Better late than never!’: A library book that had been overdue for over 60 years has been returned.

Returning an overdue book is better late than never.

The patron who returned an overdue book 63 years after it was first checked out is being thanked by a local library, which considers the returned copy to be a historical literature item.

The overdue book was finally returned on Thursday, according to a Facebook post from the Newcastle Libraries of Tyne in the United Kingdom. It came with an apology note that read, “Better late than never!! Please accept my apologies for the delay in my return!!!”

“This was returned to me today in the mail. It only took 63 years, but better late than never, as they say!” the library joked.

The last time the book was borrowed from the Newcastle upon Tyne City Library was November 25, 1958, according to the checkout record. Since 1954, the book had been in print.

According to the BBC, the book was a first-edition copy of Darrell Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics. Huff, a freelance journalist, wrote a book about the history of data deceit in 1954.

“In advertising, politics, and other domains, he demonstrates the myriad ways data can be manipulated—to falsify facts, to create a different story—and how to defend oneself against it,” Novel Investor noted.

According to a Columbia University report, Huff later came under fire when he was allegedly paid by tobacco lobbyists to testify before Congress “with the assigned task of ridiculing any notion of a cigarette-disease link” amid findings from the surgeon general that there was a health risk associated with smoking in the 1950s and 1960s. He even attempted to publish a follow-up book, How to Lie with Smoking Statistics, but the project was abandoned.

How to Lie with Statistics is still commonly used in statistics entry-level courses today. According to a report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Mathematical Statistics, it has been translated into other languages and has sold over 1.5 million English copies.

Newcastle Libraries manager David Hepworth told the BBC that the individual who returned the book may have done it anonymously because they were concerned about being charged. Fines usually start at 15 pence each day, with the maximum penalty imposed on those who are late. This is a condensed version of the information.

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