The Oakland Public Library Puts Online a Collection of Items Forgotten in Library Books: Love Notes, Doodles & More

Librar­i­ans are cham­pi­ons of orga­ni­za­tion, and among its best prac­ti­tion­ers.

Books are shelved accord­ing to the Dewey Dec­i­mal sys­tem.

Cat­e­gories are assigned using Library of Con­gress Rule Inter­pre­ta­tions, Library of Con­gress Sub­ject Head­ings, and Library of Con­gress Clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

And Sharon McKel­lar, the Teen Ser­vices Depart­ment Head at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library, col­lects ephemera she and oth­er staffers find in books returned to the OPL’s 18 loca­tions.

It’s an impulse many share. 

Even­tu­al­ly, she began scan­ning them to share on her employ­er’s web­site, inspired by Found Mag­a­zine, a crowd­sourced col­lec­tion of found let­ters, birth­day cards, kids’ home­work, to-do lists, hand­writ­ten poems, doo­dles, dirty pic­tures, etc.

As Found’s cre­ators, Davy Roth­bart and Jason Bit­ner, write on the magazine’s web­site:

We cer­tain­ly didn’t invent the idea of found stuff being cool. Every time we vis­it our friends in oth­er towns, someone’s always got some kind of unbe­liev­able dis­cov­ered note or pho­to on their fridge. We decid­ed to make a bunch of projects so that every­one can check out all the strange, hilar­i­ous and heart­break­ing things peo­ple have picked up and passed our way.

McKel­lar told NPR that her project “lets us be a lit­tle bit nosy. In a very anony­mous way, it’s like read­ing peo­ple’s secret diaries a lit­tle bit but with­out know­ing who they are.”

The finds, which she stores in a box under her desk pri­or to scan­ning and post­ing, are push­ing 600, with more arriv­ing all the time.

Search­able cat­e­gories include notes, cre­ative writ­ing, art, and pho­tos.

One arti­fact, the scat­o­log­i­cal one-of-a-kind zine Mr Men #48, excerpt­ed above, spans four cat­e­gories, includ­ing kids, a high­ly fer­tile source of both humor and heart­break.

There’s a dis­tinct­ly dif­fer­ent vibe to the items that chil­dren forge for them­selves or each oth­er, as opposed to work cre­at­ed for school, or as presents for the adults in their lives.

McKel­lar admits to hav­ing a sweet spot for their inad­ver­tent con­tri­bu­tions, which com­prise the bulk of the col­lec­tion.

She also cat­a­logues the throw­away fly­ers, tick­et stubs and lists that adult read­ers use to mark their place in a book, but when it comes to place­hold­ers with more obvi­ous poten­tial for sen­ti­men­tal val­ue, she finds her­self won­der­ing if a library patron has acci­den­tal­ly lost track of a pre­cious object:

Does the per­son miss that item? Do they regret hav­ing lost it or were they care­less with it because they actu­al­ly did­n’t share those deep and pro­found feel­ings with the per­son who wrote [it]?

Actu­al book­marks are not exempt…

Future plans include a pos­si­ble writ­ing con­test for short sto­ries inspired by items in the col­lec­tion.

Browse the Found in a Library Book col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Pub­lic Library Receipt Shows How Much Mon­ey You’ve Saved by Bor­row­ing Books, Instead of Buy­ing Them

Free Col­or­ing Books from World-Class Libraries & Muse­ums: Down­load & Col­or Hun­dreds of Free Images

The New York Pub­lic Library Cre­ates a List of 125 Books That They Love

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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  • Omar says:

    Some col­lec­tions real­ly awe­some and remem­ber­ing of his­to­ry
    nev­er can we bring back awe­some.

    For crat­ing his­tor­i­cal and life pho­to in its
    live and nice mood with retouch­ing vis­it col­or­clip­ping .com

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