Nearly a half-century overdue and with the library fine reaching $350, a book was returned by the Minnesota man who checked it out while attending Ohio’s University of Dayton.

James Phillips, a Head Start school bus driver in the Staples-Motley School District, mailed the “History of the Crusades” back to campus last month, along with a note explaining his tardiness.

“Please accept my apologies for the absence of the enclosed book ‘History of the Crusades,’ ” reads the handwritten message. “I apparently checked it out when I was a freshman student and somehow it got misplaced all these years.”

When a university representative contacted Phillips upon the book’s return, Phillips explained that he checked out the book in 1967 but left the university and joined the Marines at the height of the Vietnam War.

His suspicion, Phillips continued, was that someone gathered his belongings from his dorm room and sent them to his parents’ house, where they stayed until his parents died, and the book and the other items were mistakenly delivered to his younger brother.

“[My brother] eventually realized the error, and to my great surprise I received a box of goods from him,” Phillips went on to explain. “Lo and behold, among those items in the box was the ‘History of the Crusades’ book.

“I feel much relieved knowing now that it has finally made its way home to where it belongs.”

In an interview Thursday, the long-ago graduate of Cretin High School in St. Paul said it was "probably the honesty that my parents tought me many years ago" the inspired him to send back the book.

If not for Phillips squaring up, the school never would have known of the book being MIA. Katy Kelly, Dayton’s communications and outreach librarian, said there was no record that the book was missing.

“It still has the old borrowing card stamped with dates back to 1950,” Kelly said. “It was very thoughtful of him … not everyone would choose to return it after so long.”

The book will soon go back into circulation with a more up-to-date tracking procedure being applied: a bar code.

Back in 1967, students checked out a book for 14 days, and they were fined 2 cents for each day it was late. Library officials said they are forgiving the fine, which would have amounted to roughly $350.