But for one man that feeling must have stirred a deep sense of embarrassment, because the compensation he voluntarily offered was way beyond anything ever previously recalled by library staff in Courtenay.
For the book had been borrowed 30 years ago, and has only just been returned - and in a bid to make amends, the borrower slipped a note of explanation inside the cover, along with $100 in cash.
The book, 'Camping and Woodcraft' by Horace Kephart, is a classic of its genre. It was borrowed from the shelves at the old Courtenay Library back in 1984 and returned to Prince George Library a few days ago.
A note accompanying it read: "To whom it may concern. From Courtenay Library - please find $100 for courier back to Courtenay and for overdue. I shall contact you next week to ensure all is in order. Thanks."
To make sure the bills and note were secure when the book was dropped off, the package was carefully tied up with yellow flagging tape.
Sorry I'm a bit late returning this book - will $100 cover it? - Local - Comox Valley Echo (external - login to view)