Library Book Returned After More Than 100 Years

Ivanhoe was returned 100 Years Overdue to the Fort Collins Library. (Photo by Poudre River Library District)

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott makes its way back to Poudre Libraries


More than 100 years after it was due, a library book has returned to Poudre Libraries. Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel Ivanhoe was due back to the Fort Collins Public Library and Free Reading Room on February 13, 1919.  

Earlier this year, a woman dropped off the book, explaining that her brother found it in their mother’s belongings in Kansas.  

The inside front cover of the book offers some interesting information, including the book’s accession number (No 4608), which was placed inside each book when it was acquired by the library and put into the collection. Inside the back cover is the traditional Due Date slip, showing that the book had been checked out only three times before it went missing. 

Ivanhoe was returned 100 Years Overdue to the Fort Collins Library. (Photo by Poudre River Library District)

The inside front cover also includes the lending rules for the book. According to Art. 26, “A fine of two cents per day shall be collected on all books. If a messenger be sent for a detained book, an additional charge of 25 cents shall be collected.” 

Based on the two cents-per-day fine, today’s charge would be approximately $760.00; adjusted for inflation, that’s about $14,000. Fortunately, Poudre Libraries stopped charging fines for overdue materials in November 2020. 

Poudre River Public Library District was established in 2006 by voter approval. The District’s shared resources serve more than 210,000 people across a vast 1,800 square-mile region in northern Larimer County.

Ivanhoe was returned 100 Years Overdue to the Fort Collins Library. (Photo by Poudre River Library District)

While the 100-year-old copy of Ivanhoe won’t be put back into the collection, interested readers can check out a modern copy of Sir Walter Scott’s story from the Library. 

Brief History of the Public Library in Fort Collins  

The history of public libraries in Fort Collins dates back to the 19th century when a community reading room was established (March 1882). In 1899, citizens formed the Fort Collins Public Library 

and Reading Room Association and opened a space in the Welch Block, located on the northwest corner of College and Mountain Ave.  

On October 8, 1900, the City Council passed a resolution to make the Fort Collins Public Library and  Reading Room a city library. It became the sixth public library in the state of Colorado.  Over the next few years, the library was relocated to various buildings, eventually finding a home in  1904 as a Carnegie Library located at 201 Mathews St., the current site of the Carnegie Creative  Center. 

A Larimer County Library was established in 1937 to provide services to rural areas and was housed alongside the City library at the Carnegie Library building. Later, the City and County libraries merged. 

In 1976, when a new library space opened at what is now the Old Town Library, the library’s name was changed to Fort Collins Public Library. The Fort Collins Regional Library District was eventually formed in 2007 after a citizen-led effort to make the Fort Collins Public Library its own special district. The name changed again in 2009 when the Library Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new permanent name, Poudre River Public Library District.  

More information about the history of public libraries in Fort Collins and archive photos are available online at the Fort Collins History Connection (, a collaboration between Poudre Libraries and the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. 

For more information, visit or call (970) 221-6740.

Support Northern Colorado Journalism

Show your support for North Forty News by helping us produce more content. It's a kind and simple gesture that will help us continue to bring more content to you.

BONUS - Donors get a link in their receipt to sign up for our once-per-week instant text messaging alert. Get your e-copy of North Forty News the moment it is released!

Click to Donate