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Lest We Forget: Lost Library Books

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

Most true Seinfeld fans will remember the episode called “the Library” way back in 1991. The first scene opens with Jerry in his apartment on the telephone.

JERRY: Let me speak with the head librarian. …Because it’s absurd. An overdue book from 1971? … This is a joke right? What are you? From a radio station?

KRAMER: enters

JERRY: Ya’ got me I fell for it. Alright, OK I can be down there in like a half hour. Bye.

KRAMER: What’s the problem?

JERRY: This you’re not goin’ to believe. The New York Public Library says that I took out Tropic of Cancer in 1971 and never returned it.

KRAMER: Do you know how much that comes to? That’s a nickel a day for 20 years. It’s going to be $50,000.

JERRY: It doesn’t work like that.

KRAMER: If it’s a dime a day it could be $100,000.

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Mr. Bookman

Jerry knows that he returned the book. Turns out he didn’t. Without giving away the ending, he had given the book to George in the locker room during gym class. George dropped it while suffering an atomic wedgie. Just watch the show. It will change your life.

The point here is that library books are often misplaced in obvious locations (such as in the car, under the couch, or next to the bed), but sometimes they are hiding in strange and unusual locales. If you received a notice and need to search for a missing book, here are some spots to explore from a list of actual places that people from all over the U.S. have found lost library books. My apologies in advance for the additional commentary.

  • Between the mattress and box springs (I thought this was reserved for illicit material of the adolescent male. Come to think of it, maybe Tropic of Cancer could be found there. (Look it up.))
  • Inside the box springs (After you return the book, it might be time to shop for a new box spring.)
  • In the crack between the front car seat and the console (…along with old French fries, straw wrappers and hairy nickels.)
  • In the dog house (“Fido; sit, roll over, READ!” Maybe we can blame this one on those dogs playing poker in that picture.)
  • On your own bookshelf, or with your other books (So you have call numbers on all of your own books? That’s how it got mixed up? Weird.)
  • Under the refrigerator (Yeah, be sure to clean off all of the lint and dead bugs before you return it.)
  • In the piano bench (“If you practiced more often, you wouldn’t have forgotten it here. That’s it! We’re not paying for any more lessons.”)
  • On the work bench (I guess it was easier to just watch a YouTube video on how to fix that toaster.)
  • In your fishing gear box (Makes sense. Fishing is boring. You know, you can buy fish, right?)
  • In the car’s glove compartment (Am I the only one who has never actually seen a pair of gloves in the “glove compartment?”)
  • Under the seat of grandma’s car (Over the River and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go!)
  • In the bathroom (Yeah. Just keep it and buy us a replacement.)
  • In the deep freezer (I got nothing. Were you maybe looking for your keys when you found the book?)
  • At another library (Because that NEVER happens… firmly plants tongue in cheek.)
  • Under stuffed animals (Beware!  The stuffed animals have gained awareness and are now stealing books to learn and plan world domination.)
  • At your summer home (If this is you, why are you borrowing books from the library? Just buy it.)
  • In the trash/wastebasket (Well, we understand that some people think they belong there.)
  • With the holiday wrapping paper (Were you planning to give the library book as a present?)
  • With the camping gear (Once again, makes sense.  You need something to do while sitting in front of the campfire.)

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This is just a partial list of the odd but true places that patrons have found missing library books. In all seriousness, someone may be waiting on that book that you need to return so please be sure to keep track of your borrowed library materials and returned them on time. We don’t have a library cop like Mr. Bookman from the Seinfeld episode (yes, the character’s name is actually “Bookman”) and you will not rack up a $50,000 fine for anything, but returning materials on time keeps everything running smoothly. Mr. Bookman, the library cop, gets the last word:

“Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld. Maybe that’s how y’get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y’got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!”

Seifeld — The Library Cop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9tP9fI2zbE

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