We all do it, at one time or another. We visit a public place, and leave something of ours behind. Usually it’s gloves or scarves, or perhaps a notebook of poetry. People leave things behind everywhere, and the library is no exception. That’s why we have a Lost and Found.
Found items are interesting. All these items people have left behind, like silent, three-dimensional PostSecrets, tell a small story about someone’s life. Some of the items’ stories are mundane, some are strange, and some are very puzzling. Most of the items are mundane, like various pieces of winter clothing, junk mail, and sunglasses. There are a few things, however, that give one pause, causing amusement, confusion, or aversion.
After having found the weirdest thing yet at the library recently, I started to wonder about the odd things some of us have found over the years at the library. I sent out an email to some of my coworkers, asking them what sorts of memorable things they’ve found.
Here are the answers I received some of the unusual (and sometimes icky) things found:
“I think some of the strangest things we’ve found are pants. If someone left them here, what were they wearing when they left?”
“A dental retainer.”
“Once, someone left an unused prescription for meds (psychiatric). That freaked me out to think that whoever it was left the library to wander around without his/her meds.”
“A handicapped license plate. It was still valid.”
“Years ago someone left an unwrapped Heath Candy bar in a brand new picture book as a bookmark. That same year we also found a slice of bologna used as a bookmark, too. Sheesh!”
“Five loaves of bread.”
“Our new librarian was weeding the Teen section and found a dirty rolled up used pamper behind the 300’s. Pretty disgusting.”
“When I first came out to a branch library in 2005, I found a wrench behind the true crime books. See attached picture.”
“Somebody left their dentures next to one of the computers. Not in a container or anything just there. They have yet to be claimed.”
“I would have to say crutches. If a person needed them to get in, how did s/he get out without them?”
And finally, I’d like to add my own recent discovery to the list. We found a microscope slide of a mosquito head. It had never occurred to any of us that there would be a call for mosquito heads under glass, but apparently there’s a market for everything.
It’s human nature to leave things behind, and human nature to wonder at those found slices of other people’s lives. Every time you lose a scarf or forget your dentures, you affect someone else’s life, even if it is just in the smallest way. I’m sure someone out there has a couple pairs of my lost gloves, or even a notebook or two. I’m quite sure I’ve left sunglasses behind. Since I don’t wear dentures, I can’t have left those anywhere; but that’s not to say it wouldn’t have been a possibility. I am human, after all. Everyone forgets sometimes, and leaving things behind is one of the things that connects us and makes us interesting.
We have several books in the library addressing this subject, and it doesn’t surprise me that other people find found items interesting as well. If you’d like to read about it further, I’d recommend you check out these books, or even visit Found Magazine’s website.
So, in closing, thanks for sharing, even if it was by accident.