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Russell Group unis are waiting over 30 years for some books to be returned to the library

Cambridge is waiting for a book to be returned by someone who is now at least 48 years old


Some of the countries top universities have been waiting for more than 30 years for students to return books to the library.

The University of Cambridge has been waiting for a medical book to be returned that was due back to the library on 13th October 1992.

Long cases in general medicine by Roy Pounder is described as a textbook to help junior doctors manage patients. Well they are hardly still very junior. Whoever has got that copy hidden away in their attic is now at least 48 years old.

It’s not just medical students who have been hoarding books, the ten books overdue the longest at Cambridge were all due before at least November 1994.

Elsewhere, the University of Edinburgh will soon celebrate the 31st birthday of its longest missing book. The university wants to spare the blushes of whoever hasn’t handed the book back in so has simply told us the book relates to “personal management”.

Replies to freedom of information requests from 22 of the 24 Russell Group universities show nine universities have been waiting at least ten years for one of its books to be returned.

The University of Oxford is one of those universities. One student was loaned Margaret Hubbard’s 1974 analysis of Propertius on Wednesday 11th January 1995. They were only given until the next Monday to return it, the university is still waiting 10,266 days later.

It makes the University of Birmingham’s longest overdue book seem trivial in comparison. The published transcripts of a 1969 talk about “Ion Exchange in the Process Industries” was due back on the 30th June 2006.

Do you know what else happened on the 30th June 2006? Childhood classic, Over the Hedge was released in cinemas.

At the other end of the spectrum, University of Nottingham run a pretty sharp operation. The university said its longest overdue book was due back on the 7th November last year.

Equally, in Belfast, Queens’ longest overdue book dates back to the 20th August 2021.

Imperial takes an even stronger stance. Any book not handed back after six weeks is considered lost and students have to shell out for the replacement.

The information was either not held or no response was received from Durham University, University of Leeds or Newcastle University.

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