Look What We Found! Mysterious Items Returned in Library Books

BookendsLynn: We are starting Mystery Month with a post especially for all the librarians and library clerks out there!

Oh, the joys of checking in books . . . what mysteries they hold. Back in my undergraduate days at Purdue, I worked in the reserve book room at the library. This was a rotating collection of supplemental books, magazines, and pamphlets that professors assigned to their classes. Mystery MonthStudents could only check out the materials for two hours or overnight, so we clerks spent a lot time checking things in and out. We routinely found student IDs, money, checks from parents, used tissues, letters home, and other odd items. The weirdest, most mysterious thing I ever found, though, was an egg-and-bacon sandwich, smashed between the pages of a particularly large reference book! There was one large bite out of the sandwich. Must have been quite an all-nighter . . . .

Cindy: I don’t know whether I can beat an egg-and-bacon sandwich, but this find sure made me want to do some detective work. End of the year locker clean-outs unearth some mysterious finds, but this returned book from an unidentified eighth-grader takes the cake. We collect library books on book carts placed in the hallways during locker clean-out sessions. A few years ago, a book that appeared to have something in it showed up on the cart.


I opened the book and was a little surprised to find these:


And when I closed the book again and looked at the title, what could I do but laugh?


We need to hear from you. Let’s kick off Mystery Month with your mysteries. Clue us in by leaving us a comment about the strangest, most mysterious thing that you’ve found returned in a library book. We’re sure that there are some good stories out there.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Look What We Found! Mysterious Items Returned in Library Books"

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  1. Semslibrarylady@gmail.com' Mary says:

    Ugh! I just had a flashback to my first job in a small independent bookstore. I was a very innocent 15 year old, so when I found that same little square package shown above while I was filing publishers’ catalogues, I first thought it was a teabag! I still have no idea how or why it was there, as the 3 other employees were all single, female and over 80.

    As for library books, I did find a set of chest x-rays in an oversized garden book, a German train ticket from 1940, and an exquisite watercolor landscape about 2 inches square. On the whole, libraries have been better to me than bookstores:)

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