Odd things found in the library...

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Odd things found in the library...

Edited: May 30, 2008, 2:36 pm

Last night one of the librarians in my department (Children's ) found that someone had taken one of the small sticky-note pads off our desk and left it on one of our tables. When she went to retrieve it she saw that the person had drawn a picture on the top one.

Then she took a closer look--and discovered that someone had used the pad to create an entire X-Rated flipbook featuring a very well-endowed naked woman!

The quality of the drawing indicates it was done by a kid. Seems one of our middle-schoolers is a budding artist....

May 30, 2008, 2:38 pm

I once found a piece of notebook paper with a photograph of two women taped to it and something written in Russian on it. It was taped up to one of the shelves in the Foreign language section.

I sent a scan of it to a buddy of mine in Belarus and he told me that is said "Warning! They have been searched by police!"

Jun 3, 2008, 11:55 am

Bag of heroin tucked inside the dust jacket of a children's book. Sigh.

Jun 3, 2008, 1:21 pm

Syringe and crack pipe in the vertical files.

Jun 3, 2008, 3:35 pm

A rather pornographic, but otherwise very finely written poetry fragment. Anonymous - sadly, because it was really litterary and we couldn't place it.

Jun 3, 2008, 6:59 pm

Unrolled (I refuse to believe it was used) condom.

Jun 4, 2008, 8:10 am

A Korean war army supply list for a company of soldiers

Jun 4, 2008, 10:31 am

God, I love working in an academic library sometimes. I've found a couple of condom wrappers, but never the condom.

The weirdest thing I've ever found was about 150 religious tracts placed wherever there was empty space in our general collection. It took forever to clean up and we're still finding them tucked into books. Just what we were hoping for-proseltyzing books.

Jun 4, 2008, 11:13 am

I once found about 30 of OUR BOOKS from which all identifying labels (including the bar codes) had been removed, and which had then been put BACK ON THE SHELVES. Although they'd been put back randomly, not where they actually belonged.

Sorry for the shouting - I'm still croggled about it. We're a special library with a pretty law-abiding clientele. We do admit the general public and university students but they're not all that common. We never figured out where this was done or when, much less why. Top theory is that someone wanted to steal them and then got cold feet.

Jun 4, 2008, 6:16 pm

Lots of fake 100 dollar bills with Al Gore pictured on them.

Jun 4, 2008, 11:39 pm

A petrified half-eaten chicken sandwich.

Jun 5, 2008, 2:12 am

Today I found an unused packet of ketchup in the current periodicals.

Jun 6, 2008, 5:36 pm

a student (middle school) urinating....

Jun 9, 2008, 6:40 pm

Bxuereb: PH is already a big problem in some collections. Now we have to account for urine acidity?



Jun 13, 2008, 11:01 am

I still have pockets in the backs of books in the media center. Students tuck their fine money (usually a $ 1.00) there and leave the books in the book return drop. This has been convenient for both the students and the library staff.

Jun 13, 2008, 6:35 pm

Dirty underwear soaking in the public restroom (and up the flagpole)

Jun 15, 2008, 1:12 pm

Prescription for an anti-psychotic, tucked into a Van Gogh book.

Jun 15, 2008, 9:48 pm

A condom. A home-made pornography snapshot in the flatbed scanner provided for patrons. A mountain of used tissue behind one of the computers. (Janitorial staff members are mythical, apparently.)

Jun 18, 2008, 1:31 am

A plasic hippo behind Ruth Rendel; dirty - like they had cleaned their shoes with them - men's underwear in a ball in the corner of the men's room. Also, someone's paycheck, unopened mail and a child's letter to Santa.

Jun 18, 2008, 3:03 am

Poop. In many places.

1.) Multiple times in the Men's restroom urinal.
2.) On a holding shelf in the back of the library.
3.) On the floor in the check out line.

Who are these people? And why are they shitting on my library?!

Jun 18, 2008, 5:01 pm

i worked in a bookstore and we found poop in the elevator once and another time on the ESCALATOR...we're still trying to figure out how they managed that without being seen (the sides of the escalator and elevator were glass and easily seen from all over the store!)

Jun 19, 2008, 2:36 pm

What is this with all of these people pooping in public places? Geesh...I think that I may need to pay special attention to where I step INSIDE of businesses now! LOL

Jun 19, 2008, 3:00 pm

>I once read that libraries had the cleanliest bathrooms of any public place next to a hospital. However, this was before the computer era. It seems to have attracted a completely different clientele.

Jun 19, 2008, 3:53 pm

Upfront disclaimer: Yes, I know that what I am about to say is going to be considered by some to be very politically incorrect.

It's not simply the advent of computers varielle. Especially in some of our larger cities, libraries have become a place of refuge for the homeless. Especially true in inclement weather that ranges from freezing cold to rain to 100 degree heat. If saying this bothers you, sorry. But it IS a fact, and it CAN have an impact.

Jun 19, 2008, 4:22 pm

I went to college where my mom is a cataloger. I was the editor of the paper, and so she told me that the library had a chronic elevator-pisser. It was very, very hard to come up with a headline that was appropriate. You can imagine the brainstorming session.

Library Pissed In, Librarians Pissed Off
Urine Trouble
Pee U

Jun 20, 2008, 12:50 am

#25 -- Oh, that's too funny! Best thing I've read all day.

Jun 22, 2008, 11:39 am

#20 -- We had somebody fingerpaint on the walls of our Men's room once. You can guess what their medium was.

We've also found condoms, mostly in the bookdrop, including one that was tied off and full of liquid. Our aides have found various food items, including a dried up slice of lunch meat, half a package of raw ground beef, dripping down the shelves (that one still slightly baffles and disgusts me.) Somebody once inserted a chocolate chip cookie into the CD drive of one of the public computers.

It just goes on and on.

Jun 22, 2008, 4:23 pm

One of our patrons stuffs entire rolls of toilet paper down the toilet. We haven't found out who it is yet.

Edited: Jun 23, 2008, 7:33 pm

>28 Steven_VI:

ours prefer to stuff the toilets with sweatshirts and jackets.

Jul 8, 2008, 8:31 am

Found a full ste of false teeth once, but as they were expertly filed in the dentistry section I prefer to see it as a situationist art prank.

Jul 8, 2008, 4:35 pm

A small plastic baggie of marijuana. *sigh*

Jul 13, 2008, 9:18 pm

A semi-fossilized hardboiled egg on one of the bottom shelves in the stacks.

Jul 14, 2008, 9:14 am

Oh my. Some of these posts make me feel incredibly lucky. Mainly the shitting ones. Anywayyy, my most interesting finds:

Jews for Jesus tracts in the Judaism section, a wrapped condom as a bookmark in a returned book (my my, somebody just couldn't get lucky....or was thinking they'd get incredibly lucky while reading??), $20 as a bookmark (and no, I didn't get to keep it)

Jul 15, 2008, 5:42 pm

Yes the Human Debris Posts are unsettling - Here's my story from Jacksonville, Fl. USA where it's always warm and wet and the bugs never die.

A regular patron brings several VHS tapes to the circ desk for checkout. We use plastic security cases to prevent people from stealing our 20 year old tapes... So, in the process of extracting a tape from the case and opening the case to scan the barcode for checkout a few roaches come scurrying out across the circ desk -
The patron is a pastor - "They're God's creatures too." I say and quickly pass the tape off to my co-worker who removes it from the building. Several hours later we go to investigate the tape - It's gone! Another co-worker saw it lying on the loading dock and brought it BACK into the library. I tracked it down and opened it up to illustrate why it was outside... MORE Roaches come spilling out - all sizes, shapes and not just one or two but upwards of 3 dozen roaches were all nesting inside the VHS tape.
At the end of the day I put the tape on the hood of my car and transported it to the dumpster.

Jul 15, 2008, 6:06 pm

I was on the issue desk a couple of years ago in my previous library and had a student come up with a pile of books. He had a large bag that he rested on the desk while I dealt with checking them out. After I handed them over, he picked up his bag, which left a large puddle of blood behind. I stared at it, somewhat in shock, at which he said 'Excuse me, I think my pheasant must be leaking' and walked off!

Jul 15, 2008, 6:51 pm

Nice save, but he probably killed someone.

Jul 15, 2008, 7:03 pm

Possibly a peasant.

Jul 16, 2008, 12:39 am

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Jul 16, 2008, 3:00 pm

#34. And I thought bugs only lived in computer software.

Jul 16, 2008, 4:08 pm

#34. When I worked in the AV section of a public library (in southern CA) we once got a videocassette back with a large roach (aka "water bug") inside it. We sprayed it with bug killer and sealed it in a plastic bag for about a week. I don't remember who got the enviable job of opening up the video and disposing of the body ...

We also received video containing a slice of cheese, marinated vegetables (I remember that one welll, when I made a face upon opening the video case the woman who was returning it nonchalantly picked out the spear of asparagus and wiped out the inside of the case with her sleeve), ants, etc.

Good times, good times ...

Jul 17, 2008, 9:31 am

Not found in the library, but in a box of books donated to the library, I once found a beautiful old photograph. It is mounted on a piece of cardboard. The photo features 5 women and a child, and it appears to be from the 1880s. It is a shame that there is absolutely no identifying information anywhere on the front or back of the photo. I'd imagine someone would like this photo of their relatives. I've kept it, though, because it seems too old to throw out!

Jul 17, 2008, 11:14 am

We found 2 VERY pornagaphic DVD's inside a book in the returns box. They never come and ask if they were in lost property!

Jul 19, 2008, 12:00 am

I've found medical forms of some sort and a passport tucked inside books.

Jul 24, 2008, 3:49 pm

Someone once came in and donated his playboy collection. Every single issue since the mid 70's. Yeah.

Jul 24, 2008, 4:12 pm

I once found 3 or 4 plain white t-shirts stuffed under the sink of a men's room. They were all balled up and squeezed into the crook of the pipe.

I was sure that there was going to be drugs in there since we'd had lots of problems with drug deals in the bathroom. But no, nothing. Just plain white shirts in there for no apparent reason.

Jul 24, 2008, 4:34 pm

One of our student workers recently found $23 in a book!

Jul 24, 2008, 5:25 pm

Hey zip, make sure that you don't have anyone camping in your library and using that spot as a place to stow clothing. We've had that problem, and we've also had a transvestite who would hide his change of clothes, slip in to the (gender neutral) restroom and come out as a different person.

Jul 26, 2008, 12:52 am

We found birth control pills at our library this past semester.

Jul 27, 2008, 7:53 pm

Middle school library, I found a tooth (real) next to a computer keyboard. Five minutes after taking it to the nurse's office a student came running in looking for it! He didn't want to lose his chance with the tooth fairy.

Jul 30, 2008, 11:46 pm

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Jul 30, 2008, 11:53 pm

JKLivin658 - Such fun - we had a student we called "the poopster"

Aug 3, 2008, 9:48 am

Back in my days as a student worker, I opened the book drop box outside one morning and found a large, dead fish wrapped up in paper! Had no idea why it was put in there, but those were some smelly books for a while (we aired them out for a week).
Also, on another occassion of opening the drop box, I found a videocassette (back in the 1980s when videos were the big thing) that obviously did not belong to the library...it was entitled Huge Bras Vol. III. Amazingly enough, a patron came by that afternoon looking for the video that he dropped off by mistake! LOL I still kid him about that these days, 20 years later!

Sep 2, 2008, 12:21 am

It was before my time in circ, but: poop on the circ desk itself with no one able to say who had done it.

Sep 2, 2008, 6:30 pm

pairs of shoes obviously just bought from the charity store nearby, randomly left under bookshelves....

laughing drunk peeing on encyclopedias (oxford full set of 10 or what ever)....twice at least, my colleague just wiped them with a cloth...needless to say I tried never to touch them!

Phone book set on fire and thrown into bookdrop....my current library doesn't have a bookdrop because of regular vandalism

slightly off the subject but our libraries also have a famous library book defacer-the defaced books are now kept in the local history centre! see:

Oh I once had a book returned which had blood in it- the title was Agatha Christies The Body in the Library...

Sep 4, 2008, 7:59 am

Holy Moly...

I love my tiny, village library... Nobody could poo in it undetected...

Anyway, I haven't yet found anything weird here, but a patron once returned a book about successful puppy training... which had been chewed to ribbons by her puppy.

Sep 4, 2008, 1:48 pm

#55 LOL, That's priceless!

Sep 4, 2008, 2:03 pm

When I was a practicum student at a public library we discovered someone (likely a student from the middle school across the road) had pulled up a tile off of the brand new floor and placed a page out of a women's health magazine showing women giving themselves breast exams. (I can just hear the 12 year old giggles).

In my current academic library, the oddest thing that was turned into lost and found was a belt that was found right in the middle of the floor. How do you lose a belt without knowing it? Or do I not want to know....

Sep 18, 2008, 5:33 am

We found something really creepy today in the men's public restroom stuck to the back of the stall door. Someone had taken a Target sales paper and cut out a pic of a woman modelling a bra and glued it onto the body of a pre-teen girl modelling some clothes. So what you saw was a young girl's head with a full grown woman's breasts. Needless to say, we all got a bit weirded out by it.

Sep 18, 2008, 1:12 pm

This story was posted on the OPL staff pages today. I couldn't resist adding it to this column.

"A slender man (African American with long shoulder length braids) and child came in around noon today (6 August 2008) and asked to get library cards. I asked him for ID, and as he was reaching for his wallet, I commented on his large unusual bracelet that "I hope that is a large bracelet and not a snake." He said it was a bracelet, but the little girl looked up at me with big eyes and said "It's a real snake." I looked closer, and saw that the snake was wrapped around his waist and coiled around his arm. When the snake lifted his head, and I saw the tongue, I stepped back and said that animals are not allowed in the library. He said "Really", and I said "Yes". He and the little girl then left."

Sep 18, 2008, 2:44 pm

I wonder why that librarian thought the guy's race/hairstyle was important.

Sep 18, 2008, 3:36 pm

>60 mwade:

Maybe for identification in case the patron tries to come back with the snake?

Sep 18, 2008, 9:49 pm

@ 60 & 61: At a previous library, whenever we documented a policy violation in our library, we were required to document the patron's physical description, especially when we do not have a name. In addition to gender and ethnicity, identifying features such as hair style and color, eye color (if you note it), high visibility unique features (neck or hand tattoos, etc.), and anything else that might be helpful for future identification by other staff. Also, if there was ever a future problem with the same person, we'd have well-documented evidence that with a solid physical description could not be as easily refuted.

Sep 18, 2008, 9:50 pm

I would think that the snake would be identification enough :)

Sep 18, 2008, 9:54 pm

LOL! Yes, in this situation I would certainly hope so!!

Sep 18, 2008, 10:09 pm

BTW, did she describe the snake? How would she know if it were the same snake sneaking back into the science section?

Sep 18, 2008, 10:13 pm

If the librarian was able to give an accurate description of the snake, s/he should win an award! I would've screamed my head off and forgotten to notice anything about the snake...

Sep 19, 2008, 8:52 am

Ah, I would have loved to have seen that on YouTube.

Sep 25, 2008, 10:00 am

Earlier today we had a Chlamydia testing kit (complete with the patron's details filled in!) handed into our information desk..

In the past I have found a half empty bottle of Gin hidden in the Law section of my Academic Library...

Edited: Dec 5, 2008, 6:40 pm

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Oct 17, 2008, 8:41 am

Message 24 (which I know was a long time ago, but I've just joined...

"Especially in some of our larger cities, libraries have become a place of refuge for the homeless."

Sadly, twas ever thus. Check out Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London - even back then libraries were being used as unofficial homeless shelters.

Oct 25, 2008, 12:07 am

Poo on top of encyclopedias. The encyclopedias were obviously disposed of.

Urine on a full shelf of books.

Poo under a table in the common area right in front of the circ desk.

Oct 25, 2008, 9:59 am

Ha, that antipshycotic ina a van gogh book was great:)

Oct 25, 2008, 12:38 pm

Just had a good one this week. Tucked into the front page of a dummies guide to PC's book I was withdrawing was a $25 savings bond issued 1943. Turns out the person it was made out to still lived at the same address too.

My good deed for the week.

Edited: Dec 5, 2008, 6:41 pm

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Nov 22, 2008, 11:53 pm

I have found a dried up, obviously used condom, a condom wrapper in the men's room, but perhaps the most unusual find was live animals (lab mice and rats) that had been put in the book drop.

Dec 4, 2008, 3:44 pm

Okay, several things: I am not a librarian; I did not find this in a library; but it's simply too good not to post somewhere in this group.

A student called Michael Wood wrote a paper entitled "The Mystery of Henry's Bicycle," an imaginitive title for something on the perenially overstudied Henry James. It's an enjoyable paper, I suppose, but it's really memorable for one line that I plan to engrave on a brick in my local library's donor's walk: "As you know, libraries are hotbeds of sexual tension."
See the whole paper here:

Dec 4, 2008, 8:52 pm

I found photographs in one of our Impressionist art books - faces cut out and artfully pasted in where the painted images would be. People boating, picnicking, etc. I couldn't help but admire the work, and it was quite funny, but then again it was an expensive book.

Dec 5, 2008, 8:05 am

At a Friends of the Library sale I found eighty dollars tucked in a book which I turned in.

Dec 5, 2008, 8:57 am

Kaykwilts, that must have been a pleasant surprise!

I am always finding strange things in our book return. A few times people have have put their mail in there. (I guess it looks like a mail box!) Once I found a credit card taped to a book with a note from the patron to "use it to pay off my fines".

At one of the libraries I used to work at, our book return was just a mail slot. One night a group of kids managed to get a kitten through it which set off the security alarm. What a mess! I felt so bad for the poor kitten.

And finally, when I worked at my college library, someone returned their library book with the condom wrapper bookmark still sticking out.

I don't care what anyone says. Working in a library is never dull!

Dec 8, 2008, 8:02 pm

At the library I used to work at I once opened a drawer of microfiche to discover a page ripped out of a porno resting on top of the fiche. I opened other drawers and--sure enough--found several more.

Recently at my library we found a large bottle of prescription medication. Out of curiosity we looked up the drug online and discovered it was anti-seizure medication!

Dec 9, 2008, 3:42 am

A Few years ago, a male staff member returned from the men's room with a...used copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. I'm not sure why he didn't just throw it away. I certainly wouldn't have touched it!

Dec 9, 2008, 6:11 am

We found a small box with a picture of a lamp in our elevator. It was in the lost and found department for a whole day before we noticed some noise from inside. When we opened the box there was a live rabbit inside!

Dec 9, 2008, 5:20 pm


I hope the kitten was OK. But better not to tell me if it wasn't.

I hate that people treat animals as playthings and entertainment, as if they don't feel pain or emotions.

Dec 11, 2008, 4:25 am

I wear several silver rings every day and you know how it is with rings - if you forget to put one on in the morning you're constanty aware of its absence aand your hand just feels weird.
One morning I left for work, got in my car, started driving and then noticed that I'd forgotten to put my usual ring on my little finger. Tapping my fingers on the steering wheel as I blasted out my early morning rock just didn't feel right.
As I arrived at work and had consigned myself to a full day of having an annoyingly-lighter-than-normal little finger, I noticed something on my desk. No, it wasn't my own ring... but it was a ring. The cleaner had found a silver dragon ring on the floor and left it on my desk for me to sort out and find the owner. The funny thing is that this ring fit my little finger perfectly... so I put it on and wore it all day.
That was several years ago and I'm still wearing the dragon ring to this day. I'm not a believer in either coincidence or luck but maybe, just maybe, this ring of mine is a symbol of something... bigger. I don't know but that story is 100% true, freaky though it may be.

Dec 13, 2008, 5:02 pm

amysisson, don't worry. The kitten was fine. It was a little confused, but fine. I think one of our patrons ended up adopting it.

Jan 5, 2009, 5:55 pm


Whew! I can't begin to tell you how much I suffer when I think an animal is suffering. (Or a small child. Really, I hate when anyone suffers -- but it's especially horrible when it's an animal or small child -- we should be protecting them, not treating them badly!)

Jan 5, 2009, 7:27 pm

i adopted two animals from in front of my old library (strays)...one of them was a puppy that i ended up giving to my parents...he started at 35 pounds and is now about 90 lbs and a giant doofus in the best possible way...the other was a kitten who lives with me now...both of them have...ahem...unique? personalities! whenever i mention this my friend says, "well that's what you get for bringing someone who hangs out at the library home!"

Jan 5, 2009, 8:05 pm

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Jan 7, 2009, 12:08 pm

Sorry if this has already been posted and I missed it -- it was included on a Shelf Awareness email the other day. I thought it was hilarious for the obvious reasons -- plus I happen to own a German shorthaired pointer (the breed of dog shown on the CD cover) AND she has been known to chomp down on library materials once or twice -- most embarrassingly, the book titled "Eat This, Not That."


Jan 8, 2009, 10:48 am

Opened up an old book in the history section and out fell an army supply list missive that was written during the Vietnam war written by a soldier

Jan 9, 2009, 10:20 am

I once opened a book to find a slice of cheese being used as a bookmark. Called the patron, she came in and said,"Yep...I recognize that slice!" Another time found a strip of toilet paper beind used as a bookmark. One time a young man came to the desk because he had found $40.00 in a book. We told him we would hold it for a month and if no one claimed it, it would be his. He called us twice a week for the month asking about it, and was a very happy kid when we finally called him to tell him the money was his.

Jan 9, 2009, 5:07 pm

90- Not in a library, but in an old book I was given by my grandfather I found a flight supply list from a plane that bombed during WWII. The book actually mentioned the plane and crew members that were on the supply list. It was such a cool find!

Apr 4, 2009, 12:31 am

I once was browsing the shelves in a military history library, opened an antebellum book, and out fell an old calling card bearing the inscription "Capt. George B. McClellan, U.S.A." i.e., U.S. Army.

Yep, THE George B. McClellan, who went on advance through the ranks and become commander of Union forces during the War Between the States, before being sacked by President Lincoln for incompetence and replaced by Ulysses S. Grant.

I turned in the calling card, but I still don't understand why it had not been previously found by whoever cataloged the book or processed it for the shelf. It was just sitting loose inside, obviously used as a bookmark by the book's original owner.

Apr 4, 2009, 1:06 am

i'm not a librarian, but i love this thread!!

several people have referenced animals. isn't that what dewey the cat was famous for, being left in a book drop and then being adopted by the staff?


i love this idea, but i'm sure allergy suffers do not.

Apr 4, 2009, 3:12 pm

a few years ago we moved to a new building next to a wooded area that is often littered with dead little animal bits left over from the hawk on campus. we were afraid that our book drop would be receiving some of these tidbits. fortunately, the only oddity deposited to date was a baby pumpkin, decorated for halloween.

in our group study room, our cheap wall clock was swapped for an even cheaper & uglier one. another time someone stole the aa battery from the clock.

it is often amusing to see what people leave behind in the copy machine. you could write a book analyzing the receipts that people copy. the strangest was a fried egg left in the color copier. over hard, thankfully.

Apr 12, 2009, 3:11 pm

Did I miss this thread completely? And it's so interesting.

Oddest thing I found, just after closing, was a stack of gay porn magazines.

At one library I worked in, someone left his coat behind, draped over the back of the chair he'd been using. It was the middle of winter, and I'd seen the guy earlier, so he'd clearly left wearing just his suit jacket. There was still a bit of time left before we closed, but he didn't come back for it. Guess he wasn't cold enough to realize he'd left it behind.

Apr 14, 2009, 12:15 pm

Check this out:

One day a few months ago I was fussing about in the periodicals display room (which is really really quiet). I recently came across two 150 year old biscuit tins, the labels on which celebrate the power of the British Empire, and a Marathon bar in a desk shelf. For those of you not in the know, Marathon bars ceased to exist around about the early 1990s and were replaced by Snickers.

It's always entertaining to came across the occasional snoozing professor.

Apr 14, 2009, 2:02 pm

when I worked at a university library, we would often find copies of students' bare behinds in the copy machine. that was nearly 30 years ago, they probably send copies of their bare behinds to their Facebook nowadays...

Apr 14, 2009, 2:40 pm

>97 DavidHenry:

What did you do with the biscuit tins? I probably would have kept them! And a bigger question: what condition was the Marathon bar in? I once had a teacher that purposely kept a Twinkie in her desk, I suppose as some twisted science experiment; by the time I had her, the Twinkie was ten years old, yet still looked brand new. Ew.

Apr 15, 2009, 9:29 am

I'm pretty sure the life span of a Twinkie is approximately the same as the half-life of plutonium...

Apr 15, 2009, 9:35 am

#100: That's how they determined the half-life of plutonium!!!

Edited: Apr 15, 2009, 4:20 pm

97: I didn't really think about it. I just put it in the bin. Why, do you think it would have been worth something? It was a bit soft but otherwise was in pretty good condition.

The biscuit tins are being used to hold microfilms so I just left them.

Something I forgot about - I was going through an old filing cabinet one time and found a really good line drawing (done in pen) of the periodicals room. Whoever did it must have been at that for weeks at least. I think it dates from when the library first opened in the early 1950s. I sit there sometimes and look out the window. It's nice to think that people have been doing the same thing in the same place as you for so long.

There's more but I'll post them tomorrow...good ones actually.

Apr 16, 2009, 10:30 pm

In the large academic library, where I used to work as the head of stack maintenance, we found in the stacks:

A never-used brick that clearly came from the same set of bricks to build the building (we never figured out where it came from)

A bendable "Dragonheart" (the movie) toy

The current issue of Playboy, that we thought was stolen from the Periodicals unit, but turned out to be someone's personal copy (that no one claimed from lost & found)

A wrapped block of wood with a call number label, tracked down to be a really old placemarker for items removed from the Reference Unit (in the 1970's)

Apr 21, 2009, 10:15 pm

A starfish in the toilet in the men's room.

Apr 21, 2009, 10:43 pm

A real starfish, or a toy? And are you close to the ocean?

Apr 22, 2009, 8:04 am

>102 DavidHenry:

Nah, I was just curious to find out how well a candy bar holds up after so many years. :-)

I agree with your sentiment about thinking about the past. Which library are you in at Oxford? I studied abroad there; I was assigned to St. Edmund's and I loved their library. It's in the old chapel, so it dates back to - if memory serves correctly - the 12th century. I used to love to study high up in the old bell tower and ponder the history of the place, the people who'd been there before me, etc.

Apr 24, 2009, 10:06 am

>106 beatlemoon: I get thrown around a lot! I'm in Zoology, Plant Sciences and the Radcliffe Science Library, but mainly Zoology. Did you do you library trainee year here as well or did you just study here?

Plant sciences isn't that old, it's only early 50s. I was once sent to the bell tower for being a naughty boy in school. I couldn't quite believe it.

Apr 30, 2009, 7:47 pm

I just discovered that someone interfiled Edgar Rice Burroughs and William Burroughs. I never would have imagined the hilarity of it.

May 10, 2009, 4:08 am

I found a letter on our copy machine that was supposed to be from a school principal. It was a letter explaining that they had a computer glitch and the current grades on the report cards that came out that day were wrong. The letter was full of words spelled wrong and the principal's name was spelled wrong as well. I hope some parents wore out some bottoms when these kids got home. I really hope the parents caught that words were spelled wrong.

May 12, 2009, 10:11 am

Found a rather large pair of women's underwear next to a public computer. Myself and another staff member had a lengthy discussion as to whether we should throw them away or put them in lost in found. We decided to throw them away.

May 12, 2009, 10:24 am

Good call!

May 20, 2009, 12:32 pm

Every time it rains, water pores down one of the library's walls. The other day I found mushrooms growing out of that wall.

May 20, 2009, 2:57 pm

During closing-time bathroom checks - an elderly man with no pants on. Bob had to give him a towel. He's still in therapy.

May 20, 2009, 3:47 pm

Bob or the elderly man?? lol

May 20, 2009, 8:58 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

May 20, 2009, 10:02 pm

My predecessor came in today for a quick visit and showed me an envelope that had been in a book that a student had chosen for our annual book swap (from books donated by school families, our older discards, etc.). In the envelope was an airline boarding pass from 13 years ago AND $200 in cash! My friend/predecessor had a swollen face from dental work and was trying to remember who had returned the envelope to her. You just never know....

May 26, 2009, 9:43 am

I work in a medical library and one day I found a patient's case history inside a returned book. The patron got in massive trouble with the hospital, to say the least.

May 26, 2009, 5:42 pm

I walked into the bathroom one day to find a teenage girl coloring her hair. She said she had hard water at home, so had to use the libraries water instead. She used paper towels to (try) to clean up after herself...

May 27, 2009, 11:53 am

I work in a school library and every year the 6th formers (17-18 yr olds) who are leaving try to do something silly to mark their final day at school. One year after they had left my assistant found a page torn from a porn magazine inserted in an encyclopaedia. I became suspicious and after looking through every shelf we found ALL the pages of the magazine distributed randomly amongst the books - took us all afternoon to find them. I took them to the deputy headmaster who was very embarrassed and apologetic that I had had to deal with them. He was flabbergasted when I said 'I've seen worse...'!!

May 27, 2009, 11:57 am

44 - BeckaRah, when I started working in a public library I was told that a very old gentleman had bequeathed his entire collection of Playboy magazines to the borough reference library. Never saw them though, so I wasn't sure whether it was a library myth!

May 27, 2009, 12:28 pm

119-- You reported a senior prank that didn't hurt anything? That's where the bad stereotypes of librarians come from.

May 29, 2009, 9:07 am

A dead fish in the book return bin. Just last week.

May 29, 2009, 2:08 pm

122 --Yuck. I hope your books didn't smell too fishy.

I'm always paranoid about finding a live snake inside the book return bin. I don't know why. It's just this irrational phobia I have. So far the worst I've gotten is a half a brick and some firewood. Occasionally, I find some money. That's always nice.

May 31, 2009, 12:17 pm

100 gallons of glycol outside the dean's office and leaking down into the 2nd floor stacks. Yesterday was fun.

May 31, 2009, 2:26 pm

SylviaO--Ack! I'm terrified of snakes and never thought of that before! Thanks for planting that thought in my head :-P

May 31, 2009, 10:41 pm

We had a large alligator lizard, minus the tail, in the library last year. We captured him in a box and set him free amongst the shrubbery against the math/science building.

Jun 1, 2009, 8:31 am

>125 gaialover:

Sorry about that, gaialover! But now you have an excellent excuse to make one of your co-workers empty the book return instead!

Jun 1, 2009, 11:46 am

Found in our book drop:

* Mail (our book drop is an old post box)
* Movies from the local rental store
* A framed photo of a pet rabbit
* A toy giraffe

and a recurring favorite....

envelopes marked "fine money" with change... but no name, so we don't know who was paying the fine.

Jun 1, 2009, 4:41 pm

my husband (not me, I would never watch it!) was watching some goofy show called "Busted and Disgusted" or something like that...anyway a disgruntled fired librarian placed poo in the book drop. What a dope...she used to work there, didn't she KNOW about the surveillence camera??

Jun 2, 2009, 3:51 am

>126 FionaCat:: We once had a coatimundi loose in our library for a couple of days. They finally caught it with a cage trap with an overripe banana...during our fancy yearly fundraising party attended by the mayor, local celebrities and other big shots.

Not sure how it got loose; someone brought it in. It would make sense that it would be from some children's wildlife program, but I don't think that was the case.

Jun 2, 2009, 8:23 am

>126 FionaCat:

That reminds me of a story I saw on the news a few months ago. A library a few counties over actually had to close down indefinitely because they had a skunk that no one could seem to find. (Even after they found it, I guess it took a while to get the smell out.)

Jul 21, 2009, 11:42 pm

I work in a rural county library system. In the book drop we've had eggs, berries, garbage, fireworks that went off, a live lizard, and a live snake, all of which pale in comparison to what we found the other day, a dead rabbit. We called the police for that one, not knowing how to dispose of it, and because this is the first thing in the bookdrop that was so disturbing. We don't know if it was roadkill that some clever joker found and gave to us, or if something worse is going on. We cleaned everything in the bookdrop with bleach, and had to discard one book that was blood-damaged. Life in a small town can be just as crazy as life in the big city.

Jul 22, 2009, 9:40 am

I used to work in a rural library and we'd get snakes (and mice, and hobo spiders) in the basement, but never in the bookdrop. We had a much bigger problem with books being stacked in the doorway in the morning rather than being in the big blue "BOOK DROP" box next to the door.

Jul 23, 2009, 8:48 pm

a water ballon in my book drop luckily it didn't have enough force to break..And the kids are lucky I didn't find out who they were because my balloon would have had force!

Jul 24, 2009, 10:11 am

Just ID'd a snake. Fortunately, it was telephone reference and I didn't actually see the snake. Unfortunately, the patron's wife is never going outside again.

Jul 26, 2009, 1:31 am

>123 SylviaO:
Snakes are not rare in our library, but don't worry, they seem to stay at floor level. :)

Jul 26, 2009, 8:20 am

A pair of men's briefs (not boxers) draped over a computer monitor. Fortunately, he had written his name in the band so we were able to call and have him pick them up!

Jul 26, 2009, 1:35 pm

Suicide notes in the YA books. Panic.

Jul 27, 2009, 4:54 pm

As a patron at my local branch, I went by the drop box only to find a box of someone's Goodwill items in a box marked free sitting next to the box. Take your kid's outgrown t-shirts to the Goodwill box, the library does not want them. It made me mad and it wasn't even my library.

Edited: Aug 5, 2009, 5:10 pm

Just found the link to forgottenbookmarks.com in Matthew Dicks' blog.

Aug 7, 2009, 2:52 am

Hopefully this counts, if not I apologize ahead of time...

At one of my local libraries the FOL have a lovely, tiny room just for the used books/magazines/etc. they're selling. I got a great copy of Mary Roach's "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers"- well, nice save for it reeked of cigarette smoke. I was looking through it at home and a letter from a woman's detention center fell out, I guess it was the bookmark? LOTS of personal info on the paper too, though I stopped reading it once I realized. That mixed with the subject of the book gave me pause...

Aug 7, 2009, 2:18 pm

A box of news bulletins, dating back to 1812. One of them reported a victory over the French near Berezina, and was signed by one Peter Wittgenstein. A pile of disturbing books which had belonged to the divisional library of 6th SS Mountain Division. A badly damaged gramophone record of a meeting between German and Finnish officers in Lapland in 1944. A copy of De Re Militari by Vegetius, printed in 1607. All of this in the open stacks, of course.

Aug 8, 2009, 12:40 pm


Could/can you publish some of the above on the net.

Aug 9, 2009, 6:31 am

I find lots of that sort of thing left lying around. It's really great.

Such a shame I have to wake up, really ...

Aug 12, 2009, 1:20 pm

All of the above (except for the gramophone record, which has been stored away) are available for viewing at the National Defence University Library in Helsinki, Finland. The school has been in operation in one form or another since 1780, and the library has been the national dumping ground for related materials since then. Nothing particularly unusual about WWII-era war booty.

Aug 12, 2009, 5:22 pm

I'm just a patron, but I figured this might be worth sharing. One day I was at my local library, flipping through a book that looked interesting and the pages stopped on a folded up piece of paper tucked inside. It was a letter, written to "the beautiful woman who reads this books". In halting english (but lovely cursive writing) some guy apparently thought his dream woman would be attracted to this book, and it was filled with compliments about this classy & attractive mystery lady. It said "get back to me" with no contact information, so I figured I wasn't the beautiful woman. I put the letter back to leave it to the true love that I guess would just *know* how to get in touch with him. Who says romance is dead? At least in the library it's alive and well. :)

Aug 16, 2009, 9:37 am

that's a cute story. :)

i work in a university library so we often find notebooks that students have left lying around ... but last week i found one which had full bank details (including the PIN) written in it! eek. of course, i handed it into lost property ...

Aug 18, 2009, 11:26 am

We seem to have a rush of elderly women checking out Dungeons & Dragons novels.

Sep 12, 2009, 3:40 pm

Years ago I found several tiny little frogs and a garter snake! Yikes.

Sep 27, 2009, 8:38 pm

Hm ... a blue ribbon from a Minnesota collie show.
It's not a Minnesota library, by the way.

Sep 28, 2009, 8:32 am

I once found someone's health insurance card, that they'd used as a bookmark! (We got it back to its rightful owner.)

Sep 29, 2009, 6:04 pm

A patron sitting reading a magazine while curling her hair with a curling iron (plugged into nearby outlet)

Oct 1, 2009, 4:08 pm

I'm feeling lucky that my high school library has only turned up a few empty cigarette packs, a pack of birth control pills, wadded paper stuffed behind books, and roaches in the last three years.

Nov 4, 2009, 2:47 pm

We recently found someone's upper dentures in a ziploc bag. It will be interesting to see if the classified ad I put in the newspaper brings someone in to claim their teeth! I would think the owner would be missing them terribly...

Nov 9, 2009, 9:26 am

A little suprised I didn't find mine in the list. A disposable razor, which had been used, on the sink in the mens restroom.

I also have had the Airline boarding passes one, they were only a week old though.

Nov 9, 2009, 3:50 pm

Today, in book drop: Lemonade and a bits of a broken skateboard.

Nov 10, 2009, 11:13 am

A half eaten salami sandwich left on a chair, not 3 feet away from a garbage can. The chair was pulled away from the table as if someone had meant to sit there, found the sandwich, and just left it there for me to find and clean up. And kids wonder why we don't allow eating in our library. I can only shudder at how much garbage we would have if we did! When I have cleaned the shelves over the summer I have found sunflower seed shells, candy wrappers, dessicated apple cores, and a rainbow colored assortment of wads of gum. Recently someone left blue sticky notes with inspiration quotes all over the place. I love working with teens!

Nov 10, 2009, 11:23 am

I believe the theory is that if they didn't have to hide the food it might get disposed of properly. But with teens its probably a lost cause.

Nov 10, 2009, 12:08 pm

this is a very long chat, isn't it?????

Nov 10, 2009, 3:36 pm

#158 - I only have to look outside in our quad area after morning break and lunch to know what our library would look like if we allowed eating and drinking in here.

Nov 11, 2009, 1:13 am

>160 mamzel: However, it seems to me that food and drink work quite well in my local Barnes & Nobles. Of course, there is a space reserved for such, adjacent to the Starbucks stand.

I can't see why it wouldn't work in a library.

Mar 6, 2010, 2:31 pm

Among other things a giant black bra and a receipt from the adult novelty store. Kept that receipt, it's my favourite. Student loans had just come in and it would seem that 'the Throbber' was a required item. I bet that student has some very fond memories of higher education!

Mar 22, 2010, 1:45 pm

A pair of underpants, next to one of the computers.

An empty suitcase - I'm still trying to figure out what was up with this one.

Mar 22, 2010, 3:18 pm

The empty suitcase makes me think of spy movies where a change of clothes is the only thing in the suitcase which is left behind after the spy dumps his old clothes in the garbage, adds a moustache, a pair of glasses, and a hat and calmly walks out past the bewildered police.

Mar 23, 2010, 8:18 pm

Oh dear! Perhaps I should have alerted Interpol! :P

Apr 6, 2010, 7:50 pm

We're still waiting for the person who left their coat (nice leather one) to come back for it. It's been over a week. No one's even called to see if we have it.

Edited: Apr 7, 2010, 12:17 pm

Shoes, socks, and pants in the restroom, but it turns out that a staff member who bikes to work got changed, ran out to open the door for another staff member, and forgot to go back and clean up her stuff.

Apr 7, 2010, 12:56 pm

>167 goydaeh:

You're sure it wasn't Superman? ;) (I always wonder what happens to those piles of mild-mannered clothing.)

Apr 7, 2010, 1:02 pm

>168 Katya0133: Maybe the homeless guys thought it was their lucky day?

Apr 7, 2010, 2:24 pm

168> What would Superman be doing in the women's bathroom?

Apr 7, 2010, 2:28 pm

Well, phone booths do seem to have gone the way of the dodo.

Apr 7, 2010, 2:39 pm

>170 jjwilson61:

Supergirl, then?

Apr 9, 2010, 2:56 pm

"The Joy of Sex" found under the vanity in the public men's room. Don't even want to think about what patron that might be!

Edited: Apr 10, 2010, 1:12 pm

In high school I worked as a Page in a public library. I always dreaded saturday morning bookdrop visits. Everything put through the slot landed in a closet sized room next to the entrance. When you opened the door the huge mound of returned items would cascade out. I opened the door once and a chipmunk ran out, we chased him out the staff door so he wouldn't have to cross the road. People would also put their fast food trash in there (including an almost full soda... 8 books had to be thrown out that day).

Being in the country we had our share of wildlife. One morning I arrived at work and found all the women peering around the doorway from the staff area into the library. There was one of the 2 male employees (a fellow page who I went to school with) chasing a bat around with an empty cardboard box. Trouble was, every time he got close he would scream and jump back. I ended up having to take over the bat round-up (I'm used to bats and rodents, I was always rescuing them from my cat).

One cold, windy, and rainy day the front doors slid open and in walked a soaked orange cat. He just sat down and looked around then started taking a bath. He picked the right place to seek shelter that day. Within 5 minutes he was in the staff break room being fed yogurt, cheese, tuna (lucky for him he showed up before lunch) and was wrapped in a flannel shirt that had been in our lost and found for several months. Our 80 year old maintanence man (who could usually be found sleeping at the microfilm machine) fell in love with the little guy. Everyone wanted to call him Marmalade (orange cat... very original) but I suggested Paddington (like the bear) and it stuck. When the HSUS guy came to get him, he had to deal with a mob of tearyeyed women. The animal control guy knows my dad though so I requested weekly updates on Paddington's status. Two days later I found out that a woman had called and described him and claimed him as her cat. A few days after that I learned that the woman was really our maintanance man's daughter and she didn't want to risk someone else adopting him. He even got to keep the name Paddington.

A lady I worked with at this same library was the unfortunate bookdrop emptier one year on the last day of deer season. She found a back leg (and all that goes with it, ie: blood...). Thankfully this about 2 years before I started working there.

Apr 27, 2010, 12:19 pm

My wife in a brief stint as a librarian found a copy of an Agatha Christie novel interleaved with bacon rashers. It seems they had been used as bookmarks. This might have been understandable in a Harold Robbins, but seemed out of place in a Mrs Christie.

Fortunately, bacon rashers cannot be used in a Kindle.

Apr 28, 2010, 4:03 am

This message has been deleted by its author.

May 1, 2010, 3:53 pm

It seems like libraries are pretty universal in what detritus washes up in them. I have found money and photographs in returned books, bills and letters and bookmarks by the mile. If we can't trace the owner we put the money into the friends of the library fund. I once found a small gold coin(probably a quarter of an ounce gold coin) in a drawer in the library. I was going to raffle it for library funds, but the previous librarian who had worked there claimed it for himself!

May 1, 2010, 7:42 pm

At the University of Massachusetts, they found a hamburger with mustard in a book in the stacks. The hamburger is long gone, but the book repair lady kept the book (in a plastic bag!) as a teaching specimen.

May 4, 2010, 6:21 am

Some decades ago when Lady Chatterley's lover was finally allowed to be stocked in libraries a borrower hoping to borrow the book found it on the shelves but on closer inspection all its pages had been carefully removed. To read or to burn that is the question.

Edited: May 4, 2010, 6:31 am

Get a new, unexpurgugated copy of the book. There were actually some different versions. Published in 3 different versions, search , Lady Chatterley's Lover at wikipedia's website.

Jun 28, 2010, 6:14 pm

Condom (open but unused?) in the young adult room - believed left by teens who nabbed it from the "free condoms" bin at the food co-op. Or is this just wishful thinking? eek

Jun 28, 2010, 6:57 pm

How about this one the condiment bandit mayonaise, ketchup, cornsyrup what a mess to clean off your books!


Jun 29, 2010, 2:42 am

The arrested woman is losing "her marbles'.

What about inventing a book drop container that accepts only books made of paper, alarmed when vandalism happens?

Jun 29, 2010, 7:25 am

Our local public library was badly damaged some years ago by a fire, that started with someone pouring a couple of gallons of gasoline into the book drop container.

Jun 30, 2010, 1:39 am

Security cameras should be installed at indiscreet places to catch vandals or "nutty" people with a full view of the culprit's face.
It cost taxpayers' money but I think it is worthwhile to prevent
vandalism at library places such as a incident you have described.

Jun 30, 2010, 8:38 am

#185-Wow thats awful!

Jun 30, 2010, 8:47 am

#185 That was truly awful!

#186 Security cameras should be installed at indiscreet places to catch vandals or "nutty" people with a full view of the culprit's face.
It cost taxpayers' money but I think it is worthwhile . . .

Our library was able to get a grant to upgrade its security system and add some security cameras.

Our book drop is a located external to the library, which lessens the chance that vandalism will damage our actual building. We have had library materials damaged as a result of book drop vandalism.

Jul 1, 2010, 1:52 am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jul 1, 2010, 6:42 am

Plastic bag containing wet swimming trunk together with a net of onions

Jul 2, 2010, 11:30 am


Jul 2, 2010, 10:21 pm

Did I mention the birth certificate (c. 1952) I found in a donated book? I actually tracked the person down and returned it today. eek

Edited: Jul 3, 2010, 5:24 am

Birth Certificate as a bookmark ? Bad idea !

You are a good P.I.

Jul 3, 2010, 10:29 am

Thanks skoobdo. Yesterday the library received the Robert Arellano (a local author leaving town) book collection at the library, about a million really good books, but mostly beat-up paperbacks that I am about to leave my comfortable hame and go in early and do something with. It's a bit like standing right under a huge cornucopia. eek

Jul 6, 2010, 5:57 pm

Our custodial staff found a very large and empty vodka bottle in one of our women's bathrooms. He handed it to our branch manager as "evidence" and she houses it in her office. We've also had someone stealing all the toilet paper out of the men's restrooms ...

Edited: Jul 7, 2010, 5:48 am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Jul 15, 2010, 3:59 am

I'm sure most members here read this webcomic anyway, but just in case...

Things left behind.

reactivate cloaking device

Jul 19, 2010, 3:06 pm

I once found a stolen math final in our copy machine. Another time I found a flyer about Senior Ditch Day. I chased one student down who had been copying documents for financial aid and left a whole packet behind.

Aug 2, 2010, 2:43 am

"Found Art" that is what I call the vast array of things that I find in our library books.
So far the collection includes:
a pressed flower
a teenage love letter written in a graphic novel style that was a bit too graphic
many bookmarks
an artists watercolor test page (that was pretty to look at)
pictures of: children, weddings, birth announcements, scenery (you would be surprised how many people will come back to the library to claim the pictures).
In children books its common to find markings, but lately they are starting to color in the lines instead of random scribbles.
Lastly there are plenty of stains that show up, these induce guessing games as to how the stain got there and why its only on certain pages, and how did it skip a few pages?

Aug 2, 2010, 11:34 pm

An item that was CLEARLY herbal tea, put into a book on drugs, along with a bag of asprin.

Aug 12, 2010, 7:16 pm

In a book called 'Birth control in the modern world' a half used pack of contraceptive pills.

Aug 13, 2010, 4:20 pm

Okay, I have a lot of books that come with CDs and DVDs or even sewing patterns, but that's really pushing it.

Sep 8, 2010, 10:57 am

A student in my academic library once asked if she could move some books to use the wall plug. When asked why she needed, she responded that she wanted to use it to plug in her toasted-cheese-sandwich maker.

Sep 8, 2010, 3:00 pm

Did you promise to help her if she made one for you? ;^)

Nov 1, 2010, 9:57 am

Pig poop. In my library. This morning. Stuck to a student's shoes and tracked onto the carpet. One of the joys of teaching in a farming community...

Nov 1, 2010, 2:54 pm

I don't think anything is smellier!

Nov 3, 2010, 4:04 am

>174 bookymouse: Like you I've had wildlife - 5 possums - including one asleep in a filing cabinet!, a swallow's nest -complete with chirping baby swallows and a mouse that ran over my foot and had me out on a bench screaming in 10 seconds flat ; much to the amusement of passing Year 10s!

Dec 27, 2010, 4:39 pm

I recently found a bra on a shelf in our Teen Room!

Dec 30, 2010, 8:07 am

>208 pkg427:

....blame it on that darn Judy Blume!

Edited: Jan 6, 2011, 1:42 am

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 14, 2011, 8:05 pm

We got a returned book which had a bloody bandaid stuck to the back of it. :P

Edited: Feb 15, 2011, 4:05 am

Do not touch this book, go and look for

David Caruso as one of the actors played in the lead role as

CSI Miami's investigator in "CSI " TV series.

There are many irresponsible and "careless" persons everywhere in any part of the world from North Pole to South Pole. You need to spray disinfectant to the book before you do your reading. It must be a quick dry type, I recommend to use "Lysol".

Feb 15, 2011, 3:06 pm

Patron: "Look at this book I found."

*Colleague looks at large blob of unidentifiable goo on book.*

Colleague: "What happened to it?"

Patron: "What happened to it!? Someone used it as a Kleenex!"

Later the blob of goo was identified. Not a pleasant discovery, to say the least.

Feb 20, 2011, 8:26 am

First off, I'm not a librarian. This is mostly due to 3 reasons: 1. I was traumatized following my first visit when I learned I was expected to GIVE back Green Eggs and Ham. 2. I'm sure I would be expected to work rather than read. 3. People often aggravate me.

But, as an avid purchaser of used books I have found:

Boarding passes
A kodak photo taken of the Beatles during their first visit to the U.S.
Letters and unpublished poetry from a famous U.S. historical figure
Very old newspaper clippings
Insurance forms
Business cards
Junk mail
Family photos
Personal poetry
Notes from a biography in process
Dried leaves

Feb 22, 2011, 4:08 pm

as an avid purchaser of used books I have found:. . .

I recently bought a used book via Amazon, and found tucked within its pages a copy of someone's newspaper route complete with a diagram of the neighborhood, notes on payments received, and even somebody's phone number! It looked quite old, as was the book.

Edited: Mar 14, 2011, 9:55 pm

Well, I've been working as a library asst. for over a year now and have yet to see an animal (or animal part), thank goodness. I've found a bunch of random bookmarks, my favorite was just a small torn piece of pink construction paper that said "I love you."

Last week we had someone leave their opened jar of peanut butter in the magazine room. I guess they were done snacking.

Oh, and I don't think I've seen this on the board yet, but anyone else have a local flasher? Please don't say it's just us....

Mar 14, 2011, 3:36 pm

I wonder what he uses as a bookmark.

Mar 15, 2011, 11:29 am


Mar 15, 2011, 11:39 am

if he shows "it" off, "it" is probably too small to use for anything but a bookmark!!

even when you consider quality over quantity.

Apr 21, 2011, 7:41 pm

We found a manakin bust (just the head, one of those type you see at hair styling colleges) He had a beard painted onto his face and was wearing a graduation mortorboard hat and had a red tie around his neck - he was on the top shelf of our large print fiction section.

Oct 9, 2011, 6:53 pm

I had a 2nd grader bring in a huge (at least 3 ft across) wasps nest in to put on the nature table. I heard buzzing. I asked him if he had sprayed it. No, why? We put it in a big trash bag and gave it to maintenance.

Oct 12, 2011, 3:32 pm

You may have averted someone's trip to the hospital and a subsequent law suit!

Oct 12, 2011, 10:30 pm

Apparently, Red Bull is doing a bit of guerrilla-geocaching marketing. We found a four pack marked with a registration code stashed behind a column.

I'm hoping that Little Debbie decides to do the same.

Oct 18, 2011, 12:46 pm

Oooo... Ghirardelli Chocolate is welcome in my library!

Jan 25, 2012, 9:31 am

Ugghhh...just found a book on the shelf full of boogers. Straight to the trash can.

Jan 25, 2012, 3:13 pm


Edited: Jan 26, 2012, 12:50 pm


A sandwich bag filled with black soil, one softened, mushy apple, a hotel-sized soap with dried bubbles and scum ring, 4 mangled DVD covers (sans DVD's of course, perhaps "shucked" is the appropriate term for them), a few acorns, one unopened bag of corn chips. These are all behind the books mind you...

>216 euphemasaurus:

On my walk to work this morning I saw a dead crow. Perhaps one of our loyals will happen upon it and carry it in. Anything is possible!

The boogers...that one is gross! Though we have our hackers. I feel bad for the custodial staff when I hear a prolonged snorting, throat-clearing, spitting, hacking going on in one of the public lavoritories (lockable and single person for some unfathomable reason which explains all the hidden bars of soap).

Jan 29, 2012, 10:14 am

I work in an academic library, and as far as critters in the library, we've had the usual mice and voles. My favourite leave behinds, however, usually come from donations to the library. We've found an entire decade's worth of birthday and anniversary cards, deflated balloons, banana peels used as bookmarks, tea bags and popsicle sticks used as bookmarks, mouse poop, pay checks, income tax forms, income tax statements (W2's, etc), personal letters and photographs, and a variety of other foodstuffs. Another thing I consider a sort of leave-behind would be the inscriptions on books donated. Some of them are very personal and heartfelt, and its sad sometimes when you realize that the book was never read.

Jan 29, 2012, 11:53 am

> 228, My mother always thinks similarly and says that she would never give up a book that some inscribed for her. (Otherwise, she usually donates once she's done with a novel.) I tend to think that these things happen eventually when someone passes though.

Feb 19, 2012, 5:37 pm

We just found what appeared to be someone's x-ray or bone-density scan, full-body, sized at about 2" x 6" and being used as a bookmark. (In a children's book!)

Feb 26, 2012, 9:52 pm

One of my library helpers found a half-eaten biscuit that was stashed behind the books

Feb 27, 2012, 2:59 am

I found mouse poop under and behind the Arts & Crafts shelves. Apparently the mouse doesn't like it.

Apr 4, 2012, 9:48 am

The library has been turned into a rehearsal hall for 4th graders learning to play recorders. If I have to listen to one more(bad) rendition of Hot Cross Buns or Mary Had a Little Lamb, I may have to reach out and touch someone.

Apr 6, 2012, 2:06 pm

One of our librarians discovered that a patron peed on one of the shelves in the back corner of our non-fiction section, ruining a bunch of new books. Maybe they were protesting the lack of a public restroom on the second floor? Regardless, who does that kind of thing?

Edited: Apr 7, 2012, 1:00 pm

A child squatted down and dropped a deuce in the middle of the children's department in full view of the mother, who did not even apologize, just asked if we had a custodian.

Apr 7, 2012, 12:48 pm

What is wrong with people these days?

Apr 8, 2012, 6:42 pm


Apr 8, 2012, 9:23 pm

Here's a handy thing for all you Librarians who LibraryThing. A notebook to record all the fun things that happen in your libraries.

Apr 9, 2012, 6:08 am

Use paper that's pee-proof.

Apr 9, 2012, 9:20 am

We used to have the bird man visit and we had to walk into the room one at a time holding hands and his pretend bird would ask you questions and he got very upset if you looked at him and not the bird. Then you chose a book. I think they stopped it because one of the teachers knew him from a different city.

Apr 9, 2012, 3:38 pm

#238 - I have one =D

Apr 10, 2012, 2:29 pm

#234 & #235.....

.....we had a serial fecal depositor in our main University Library a few years ago. What made it even worse is that they would leave their mark on an open book. The mess is bad enough, ruining a book is just rude.

Apr 10, 2012, 6:38 pm

#242 - Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!!!!!!!!! That's just insane.

May 2, 2012, 4:01 pm

I've found the occasional condom or two, but that is the oddest thing I believe.

May 3, 2012, 5:24 am

I'm not a librarian but I've worked in a bfd library with its own air pressure to keep the dust out. At another library's exquisite reading room, I once noticed someone leave behind a twisty scrunch together flower balloon. It was such a beautiful whimsy thing for the place. The owner sometime later remembered to return to collect it.

May 3, 2012, 11:03 am

I don't think I've mentioned this before: Back in the '80s, at closing, another librarian and I happened upon a stack of gay porn magazines left on a table in the reference department. There were at least a half dozen. I wasn't sure if someone merely forgot to take them with him or if he was donating them to the library. In either case, they were tossed, but not before we looked through them. ;)

Feb 24, 2017, 12:01 pm

I don't know what is worse: opening a Talking Book case and (what seemed like) hundreds of roaches running out, or opening a DVD case full of cat pee.

Feb 24, 2017, 2:10 pm

Bearing in mind that we are the public library literally across the street from one of the largest military/signals intelligence bases in the world: a printout of a zoomed-in satellite map with codenames on all the buildings and strings of nonsense alphanumeric characters written on the back.

(...I hope it was just a training exercise.)

Jan 25, 2018, 4:08 pm


Edited: Jan 25, 2018, 5:38 pm

For us, the oddest hing left was a small ornamental pumpkin left in the book drop. We proudly displayed it on our front desk well into winter.

Unfortunately, back in December, some lout dumped a bunch of snow into the book drop, ruining most of the books that were already in there.

Jan 28, 2018, 7:13 pm

Yep, you definitely win >249 nicolemaddock: Yeesh...

Edited: Feb 7, 2020, 11:42 pm

I'm not a librarian, but I found Nazi Swastikas written in the deadcenter of the pages of one our highschool's history books, even weirder was that any page number that had a 6 in it (for example page 306) or corsponded with an important date in Hitler's life or ww2 (like page 430 as in 4/30/(1945) ) were the targets of this vandalism. Not to mention that these pictures were drawn in with perhaps the most leaky black pen in the world.

(I hope this vandal isn't going to be in my german class next year.)

Another thing to note is that if your library has an uncensored copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, make sure that all 200+ instances of the N word are still in the book and not pasted on the bathroom walls or something.

Feb 11, 2020, 10:13 pm

I checked out a Nora Roberts romance last week, and the word "goddamn" had the "god" WHITED out...all through the book. Mind you, none of the other curse words were whited out, including the f bomb. A selective censor, lol.

Edited: Feb 20, 2020, 8:03 pm

>252 Hes_A_Big_Chungus: Not weird at all. High school students will be jerks.

They'll think that they're edgy and bucking the system by doing this sort of thing, or they will think it's funny. It's not.

Some will grow out of it, others will become white supremacists. Hopefully none of them will kill anyone.

>253 theretiredlibrarian: That sorta makes sense too. I can see why people may not mind damn or the f word or whatever, but, mind that god is being brought into it. Technically, swearing without god somewhere in there isn't taking the lord's name in vain, but, you add god to it. Of course, they're going to hell anyway for defacing a book ;) so, they're scratching out the god didn't help anything, but..... :)

Mar 4, 2020, 11:33 am

Notes tucked in a mainstream straight forward history of the George W. Bush Administration that stated uncontroversial facts in a harried scrawl. Some examples:
"George H W Bush was once director of the CIA and his son is George W Bush, who WAS PRESIDENT WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED."
"9/11 was in 2001, but the war in Iraq didn't start until 2003!"

Mar 6, 2020, 2:19 pm

We just had a rather large art history book returned in the book drop with a dirty sock inside as if it was used as a book mark.

Jan 8, 2021, 2:04 pm

Back when I was in college, I found a couple of inscriptions in the books in the library archives, warning of dire consequences for stealing the books:

“Don’t steal this
book for fear
of your life
don’t you see
the butcher knife”


“Miss Nobody
Steal not—this Book my
honest friend—for fear
the gallows will be your end”

In the library I work at now, the oddest thing is actually part of the collection: a copy of Dracula, with an interesting essay on classics at the end and a blurb on the front cover reading “BASIS FOR A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE”. As though there was only one movie ever based on Dracula...

Jan 14, 2021, 12:45 pm

>253 theretiredlibrarian: I found books like this, went back in her history and pulled other books she had checked out and found the same thing done in them. I told her next time I found it she would have to pay for them.

Jan 14, 2021, 3:11 pm

Odd things found in the library ...

In these oddest of times, the oddest thing to find in the library where I work would be a member of staff, or indeed a reader. We remain closed until at least the first of February, as part of the national lockdown.

Jan 14, 2021, 3:14 pm

I would love to be seen in the library again. Our lockdown here was supposed to end on January 25, but it will probably be extended.

Jan 14, 2021, 5:21 pm

>260 MarthaJeanne: Ours (Denmark) is just now being extended three weeks (until February 7) and it'll be a miracle if it isn't extended again by then. Covid-19 numbers are okay but not great at the moment, but the b.1.1.7. strain is spreading, so opening up is a recipe for disaster.