The Weird Things Librarians Find in Books

Romeo Rosales

Staff Writer

Full time Librarian, father and husband, Romeo Rosales, Jr. holds an MLS from Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX, a B.A. in History from The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, TX, and an A.A. in History from South Texas College in McAllen, TX. Romeo was born and raised in Pharr, TX, a border town that is part of the historic Rio Grande Valley. He is a contributor for Public Libraries Online, the companion website to the bi-monthly print publication "Public Libraries," the official magazine of the Public Library Association. He is also a published author and when he is not writing, he is spending all of his time with his wife Claudia and his son Azariah. Twitter: @Rrsls10

librarian pinAs readers, we have all flipped through books for various reasons. Maybe you like that new book smell, or maybe, like me, you are a librarian and flipping through books is an everyday process. When it comes to collection development, we must constantly assess our library’s collection and make important decisions about properly weeding material to keep our collections current. The last thing you need is to house a book highlighting MS-DOS when most computers are running Windows 10. That’s a disservice to patrons and it just shows a lack of respect for the profession (I have known some of these lazy librarians).

While flipping through thousands of books over the years, I have found some very weird things hidden in between the pages. Some of the things I have found have not been shockers but others have been legit weird. Before you ask: yes, I have found condoms inside books. Don’t people use wallets and purses anymore? Anyway, I decided to ask my colleagues about some of the weirdest things they have found inside books. They range from not too weird to legit NSFW moments.

So here are some library employee’s takes on weird things they have found inside books:

“I once opened a book and found a tin can lid inside. I did not want to cut myself so I walked the book over to the trash can and slid the lid off the book to dispose of it. I thought it was some kind of brujeria (witchcraft)!”

“One time I found $100 in 20s. It was quite a large amount of money to be hidden in a book. I located the patron who last checked out the book and after some questioning, I verified he was indeed the one who left the $100 behind.”

“As I was going through book donations, I noticed one book had a large amount of papers sticking out of it. I pulled the papers out and after reading through some of them, I quickly realized they were either sexual letters written to a woman or someone was working on some serious erotica for a future book. The details were pretty graphic so I had to toss them in the trash pretty quickly.”

“A patron returned some damaged books in our book drop once. The books had been chewed on by a dog and as I was flipping through the pages to verify the extent of the damage, hairs (possibly pubic, possibly from the dog) fell out of the book onto my lap. I just about puked on myself. I ran to the bathroom to wash my hands about 10 times before I felt like I got the nastiness off of me.”

“One time I opened a donated book and there was a letter in there from a woman to a family thanking them for helping her learn to play music. The letter was very old so I decided to research the name of the woman who wrote the letter. It turns out she became a famous musician! I thought it was the coolest thing. I am tempted to reach out to her to let her know I found her letter.”

“A coworker and I were checking in books at the circulation desk when we noticed one book looked odd. The pages were spaced apart in a weird way. Upon further inspection, we noticed there was hair taped to multiple pages throughout the book. It was gross and creepy so we decided to discard that book right then and there.”

“All I can say is I have found unmentionables that include condoms (wrapped and unwrapped), tampons and other nasty things.”

I have to say that finding weird and nasty things inside books is not an every day occurrence for librarians but it does happen. I admit that I have multiple hand sanitizers in my desk drawer and I use them often. I mean, I don’t know where some of those books have been! What are some weird things you have found in books?