It’s a story of well-aged philosophy, begun in a UW-Madison library prior to World War II and concluded in the same library last week.
On Jan. 13, 1938, a student checked out a hardcover book, “Selected Papers on Philosophy” by William James. In all caps at the top of the return slip were the loan terms — FOURTEEN DAYS — and the daily overdue fine — TWO CENTS. Previous date stamps showed it had been checked out regularly starting in 1926, and returned. For this patron, the book took a bit longer on its journey back to the shelves, arriving last week by mail with a letter to Ed Van Gemert, vice provost for libraries:
“My parents met as students at the University of Wisconsin in 1937 and have been married for nearly 73 years. Recently, I have been sorting through the myriad boxes in their basement. I found the enclosed volume, which seems to be overdue at the University Library. I am not sure which of my parents is the scofflaw, but it seems appropriate to return it. I hope that the absence of this work has not had adverse consequences for the intellectual life of the University.”
Multiply two cents by 27,547 overdue days, and it adds up to a fine of $550.94. Fortunately for the woman who returned it, the library no longer collects overdue fees.
“Though the library has received old, overdue books before, this has to break the record for the longest overdue book returned to the library,” Van Gemert said in a statement.
The tale got plenty of love on Facebook. A university post on Saturday about the book had more than 1,300 likes and nearly 300 shares by Monday.
UW-Madison federal liaison steps down
UW-Madison’s ace in Washington, D.C., retired last week after a 45-year career at the university.
Rhonda Norsetter, senior special assistant to the chancellor and director of federal relations, won widespread praise for her work building relationships and winning federal funding. More than 30 percent of UW-Madison’s budget comes from federal programs. Thirty-five percent of all financial aid as well as 90 percent of loans and work-study money come from federal aid. Norsetter had a primary role in securing that funding.
“Federal funding impacts every student on this campus, so it’s impossible to overstate the importance of a careful, thorough liaison who can advocate for our university’s interests,” said David Ward, whose recent stint as interim chancellor also ended last week. “Rhonda has done that, and much more.”