Wilderness survival book borrowed in 1977 is finally returned to Vancouver Island library

The copy of "Wilderness Living" that was returned to the Vancouver Island Regional Library Monday, 42 years after it was checked out. Vancouver Island Regional Library

A book about surviving in the outdoors has survived its own long journey, after being returned to a Vancouver Island library branch more than 40 years after it was checked out.

The book, “Wilderness Living: A Complete Handbook and Guide to Pioneering in North America,” was borrowed from the Union Bay branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library in 1977.

On Monday, it was anonymously returned to the branch in Courtenay, 15 km away.

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Vancouver Island Regional Library spokesperson David Carson said he’s pretty sure this sets the record for longest overdue book in the region.

“If there is a book that’s been out longer, I’m not aware of it,” he told Global News over Skype Saturday, adding the book is still in excellent condition.

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The Vancouver Island Regional Library fines adults 30 cents daily for overdue books until a $10 cap is reached — which Carson said is lucky for whomever signed it out.

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“The fine would have been more than $4,500 without that cap,” he said.

The library is now holding a contest on its Facebook page, asking people to send in their short story ideas of where the book may have travelled over the past 42 years.

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Carson said they’ve already gotten “some gems” among the submissions.

He said the book’s subject matter adds to the mystique of its whereabouts, and also gives him his own ideas about what it’s been up to.

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“It is a book about wilderness survival,” Carson said, “so my hope is that it found its way off-grid somewhere and spent the past 42 years deep in the wilderness helping someone or a family survive and thrive deep in Vancouver Island.”

Writers have until Sunday at 8 p.m. to submit their short story ideas, and the winners will be announced Monday afternoon.

— With files from the Canadian Press

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