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140-Year Old Book Returned To Rugby Library After Going Missing

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
140-Year Old Book Returned To Rugby Library After Going Missing

An original book from Historic Rugby’s Thomas Hughes Library has been returned to the shelves after disappearing for well over 100 years.

Operations Manager Annie Patterson called the return of “Diamonds and Rubies, The Home of Santa Claus” a Christmas miracle. Patterson said of some 7,000 original books when the Rugby library opened in 1882, this was one of just seven books unaccounted for.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” Patterson said. “One of our primary goals is kind of sharing the story about the village and the role that the library played in that, so to have a piece of that come back is neat.”

Patterson said a woman in Knoxville found the book at a yard sale and returned it through a friend who attended the Historic Rugby After Dark Tour. She said the book has remained in remarkable condition.

“It has the original catalog number in it and then it has Thomas Hughes Library, Rugby, Tennessee,” Patterson said. “It has the original stamp and marks in it, so they knew where it was supposed to go.”

Patterson said though late-return fees were only three cents a day when the book was checked out, she could not imagine the fines owed on a book overdue through some 140 years of inflation. She said the book is right back on the shelves and ready to be checked out again.

“As a collection, it’s just so important,” Patterson said. “The community has always valued education and making that accessible to everybody.”

Patterson said the collection has remained largely the same since the library opened in 1882, making it one of the most complete collections of Victorian-era literature in Tennessee. She said the the library has been a focal point of the village for generations. In its early days, people would often check out books and spend time in the historic building whether a librarian was present or not.

“The library itself is just a real gem,” Patterson said. “It’s kind of one of the high points of the village and it was kind of the pride of the village originally.”

The Susie M. Waring volume was published in 1870 and still contains the original Thomas Hughes Public Library seal.


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