A librarian gathers all the items left in books, including old photographs and love letters.

Objects placed in books at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, California, as seen in a photograph. hide caption AA

switch to caption Photo illustration: Vanessa Leroy and Nell Clark via Oakland Public Library

Objects placed in books at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, California, as seen in a photograph.

Photo illustration: Vanessa Leroy and Nell Clark via Oakland Public Library a detailed pencil sketch of a dragon; an unmailed floral birthday card for someone turning 40; and a silver crochet hook.

All of these things have one thing in common: they were abandoned in books that were brought back to the Oakland Public Library.

The discovered items are gathered by librarian Sharon McKellar and added to the library’s website under the collection name “Found in a Library Book.” .

I Love You, Always, Oakland Public Library hide caption
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Observe, I love you

The items Oakland Public Library McKellar would discover at the library and the fictitious peeks into people’s lives they provided captivated her. Nearly ten years ago, she started uploading found artifacts to the library’s website because she reasoned that the general public could be interested in them as well.

According to McKellar, “I had always collected small items I’d discovered in library books and I knew other people did that as well.” “So that’s how it began. It was fairly straightforward; I was motivated by the publication Found Magazine. .”

McKellar receives items from Oakland librarians that she scans and uploads to the library’s expanding online collection.

Over 350 articles of various types are currently available in the archive. The collection includes faded pictures, bits of homework, bus tickets, love letters, and postcards.

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Oakland Public Library Many of the things seem to be made by kids. A young child in In one note commends “Borok Oboma” for his talks and love of his family. In her short story “ In another ,” Ana invites a character to check “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” to indicate whether they are friends (none of the bubbles are checked.)

Some of McKellar’s favorites seem to have been purposefully left behind.

“A young person who read Matilda by Roald Dahl and marked it by placing Post-it notes throughout the book with only thoughts that occurred to them as they read it, such as “Wow! I find it hard to believe the teacher did this “She spoke.

According to McKellar, nobody has ever claimed any of the artifacts, and many of them appear mysterious without context or provenance.
The situation changed last month when Jamee Longacre was browsing some of the collection and noticed a green sticky note.

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Babies with Constipation!
Robot Daddy ( Oakland Public Library

) Oakland Public Library hide caption

Oakland Public Library toggle caption Longacre stated, straining to study the computer screen, “I even humorously leaned further in closer to my computer screen.” She recognized her own handwriting’s crooked letters.

Longacre is from the adjacent city of Concord. She claimed to have written the note in her memory, but was unable to remember its context or its intended recipient. She admitted that she had never visited a library in Oakland.

As soon as Longacre discovered the note was her own, she “just kind of giggled to myself,” she recalled. She made a move to grab it from McKellar.

For McKellar, the project’s appeal is in speculating about an item’s potential past and the owner.

“It permits us to pry a little. It’s like reading a tiny piece of someone’s secret diary in a very anonymous way, but without knowing who they are “or betraying anybody’s confidence, she said.

She stated that the library might at some point host a writing competition and invite participants to submit short stories to go along with the artifacts found.

McKellar keeps a collection of additional recovered notes under her desk that are awaiting inclusion on the website. She frequently pulls out a letter, a picture, or a doodle to look at between appointments.

I wonder if it belonged to someone as a priceless item, McKellar remarked. “Does the individual miss that thing? They didn’t express those intense and profound thoughts to the person who wrote “it,” so do they regret losing it or were they reckless with it? “She muses.

The item will then be scanned and added to the collection by her.
This story’s digital version included contributions from NPR’s Vanessa Leroy.

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