New Online Database Hosts Images of Hundreds of Items People Have Left Behind in Library Books

The Oakland Public Library has a fascinating new project which collects and displays the various stray items discovered in library books by staff. It’s called “Found in a Library Book,” and is now presented and available for all to investigate via an online database, with new collected items being uploaded over time.

Sharon McKellar, a librarian at the Oakland Public Library and the originator of Found in a Library Book describes how this collection grew and expanded with the help of other librarians who shared in her delight over these everyday discoveries: “I put out a call to other library staff, just to see if anybody had anything they’d be willing to share, and was just totally inundated with other people’s little collections of things they had found.”

Items in the database include children’s drawings, reviews left in books intended for the next reader to find, photographs and Polaroids, and even love letters. Of course, plenty are less personalized than that: playing cards used as bookmarks, receipts, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, and so on. These complete a broader picture of the anonymous pieces of our lives left behind in borrowed books, sometimes just stray objects intended as bookmarks or more meaningful message-in-a-bottle type notes left for strangers.

There are currently 370 items available that can be browsed at the Found in a Library Book section of the library’s website, complete with tags to isolate specific types of entries. Oakland locals might even find the work of someone they know!

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