Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

40-Year Overdue Library Book Incurs No Fee - but Gratitude Inspires Donation

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

40-Year Overdue Library Book Incurs No Fee - but Gratitude Inspires Donation

Article excerpt

In 1970s, Michael Kelly checked "So You Want to Be a Doctor" out of the Kanawha County Library in West Virginia. Forty years later, he is a successful plastic surgeon in Miami, Fla., but - as he recently discovered - he never returned the book that helped him get there.

"I was and am a voracious reader, so I would scan the shelves looking for things to read," Kelly, told WCHS Eyewitness News. "I saw 'So You Want to Be a Doctor' and checked it out. I actually found it very helpful because it went through step by step what it took to become a physician, both academically and from a training perspective."

Embarrassed to find the book still on his shelf, Dr. Kelly plans to return the book to the country's main library in Charleston, the state capital, on Friday, along with a $500 library donation as a show of gratitude and apology. Kelly, who wanted to be a doctor since his early years of high school, hopes that his story will inspire other kids to follow their dreams.

Aspiring doctors might still visit their local libraries for resources, but the facilities themselves have changed a lot since 1970, as librarians adapt to keep pace with Americans' changing reading habits.

Although some people may think of libraries as dusty, or even archaic, they actually have a history of bringing technology to the public before it becomes affordable to the masses. Before there was a computer in every home, much less every pocket, people learned to use computers at the library - and before that, the same was true with typewriters. Today, 250 public libraries across the United States provide access to 3-D printers, according to data from the American Library Association.

Digitalization "swept through the music and the book industry, and now it's reached the physical economy, the economy of tangible things," Charles Wapner, ALA information policy analyst, told The Christian Science Monitor last May. …

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