Who amongst us has not forgotten a library book or held on to it beyond its due date, and yes it can make one feel guilty at the thought of depriving another reader from getting it, but imagine keeping the book 57 years after it was due.

The book was left in the United Kingdom, Middlesbrough Central Library’s returns box this week but was due back in December, 1962. The copy of Geoffrey Faber’s poetry anthology The Buried Stream was still “pristine”, Middlesbrough Council said.

Staff couldn’t believe it when the book was returned by an anonymous reader after almost six decades. The lengthily absence could have led to the lax borrower facing a library fine of more than £500.

However, with fines currently suspended as part of the service’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, they were not charged. The book was welcomed back by bemused but grateful library staff, with no questions asked.

Librarian David Harrington said: “Much to our surprise this beautifully bound book was dropped into the returns box at the Central Library.

“We’re really grateful to the anonymous person who returned this book to us as it will be added back to our stock and placed in the Reference Library for future generations to enjoy.

“We’d also urge any of our customers – past and present – to return any overdue library books they might have, with the assurance that we’re not currently charging fines.”