A book borrowed in 1939 returns to a Finnish library after 84 years. The overdue return date falls during the Finnish Winter War.

Librarian Heini Strand was given an unusual assignment on May 27: As the Guardian reports, a person returned a book to the Oodi Library in Helsinki that had been borrowed 84 years ago. It was a Finnish translation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s historical novel “The Refugees”. Strand found that the book’s return date was December 26, 1939.

The connection between the person who happily returned the book and the original borrower is unknown. According to Strand, such late-returned books are often finds from the estates of deceased relatives. “People want to do the right thing and return the book, which is the property of the library,” she told the Guardian. “I think that’s very nice.”

Strand suspects that the delayed return may be due to the fact that the due date was one month after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in November 1939. The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union lasted until March 1940 and claimed around 26,500 war dead on the Finnish side and at least 127,000 on the Soviet side, according to “Dekoder”.

“If the person survived the war, he probably had other things on his mind than returning the book,” Heini Strand told the Guardian.

The novel “The Refugees”, set in 17th century France, was published in 1893 by British author Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for his stories about Sherlock Holmes.

The Guardian reports that the library may make the book, a 1925 edition, available to the public again as it was returned in exceptionally good condition.

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