True Stories from a Book Drop Near You

Book drops. It seems simple, doesn’t it? A name like “book drop” doesn’t leave much room for mystery…you’d think.

A recent poll of librarians has proven otherwise, however. Across the nation, patrons of public libraries have confused a book drop with trash receptacles, a donation box, urinals, chicken coops… The list goes on and on.

While we may never understand how or why this confusion occurs, we do know that the result of patron confusion–though sometimes disturbing–is frequently amusing. So, until the government provides libraries with several billion dollars to launch an education campaign on proper book drop use, we have taken it upon ourselves to provide you with this useful list of book drop dos and don’ts–all based on the true stories that have been sent in from around the world.

1. Situation: You work at a library in the city of Las Vegas, NV. As you approach the book drop, you hear the sound of squawking and scratching.

Don’t…Assume you’re crazy. You may be miles from the nearest farm, but there actually are chickens in your book drop…complete with food and water. Hey, it happens.

Do… Tell your coworkers to fire up the bar-be-que, baby!

2. Situation: Upon opening the book drop, you are pummeled by the stench of garbage. And on top of the rubbish heap in your book drop? A used maxi pad.

Don’t…Toss your cookies into the book drop. You’d only have to clean that up, too.

Do…Consider dumping the contents of the book drop into the yard of your most obnoxious patron. While you daydream about this, fetch your rubber gloves and trash bag, and hope that the old saying, “what goes around, comes around” is true.

3. Situation: Under all of the returned books, you find a photo album with a note scribbled across the front: “My best return.” You open it and discover it’s a wedding album…with the head of the groom cut out of every picture.

Don’t… Display the album on your library’s “recommended reading” table.

Do…Hand a picture of the bride to your single coworker and say, “Hey, this hottie’s single.”

4. Situation: Every book you pull out of the book drop has a Breath Right strip stuck to it.

Don’t… Put your “Reduce Reuse Recycle” mantra into practice.

Do… Use hand sanitizer to strip the strips. That stuff works like a charm in so many sticky situations!

5. Situation: Mixed in with the regular DVDs in the book drop is a DVD of hardcore porn…with instructional diagrams stuck to the front cover.

Don’t… Shout across the library to your coworker, “Dude! That video you wanted came in!”

Do… Use copious amounts of hand sanitizer after you toss this special find into the trash.

6. Situation: Because the book drop at your library is both ancient and enormous, you are forced to crawl inside of it in order to get to the books in the back corner that have fallen out of the cart. While you are inside, a patron deposits his lunch leftovers–including an unfinished soda and partially eaten sandwich–into the book drop. You emerge, covered in turkey and Diet Coke, and face the culprit.

Don’t…Expect an apology. It’s your fault anyway. You were the one on all fours inside the large receptacle marked “BOOK DROP.” Clearly you had it coming.

Do… Give the patron a big hug and thank him for his generosity.

And our all time favorite find in a book drop is…

7. Situation: The police are called after a 13-year-old boy sets off motion sensors when he “falls” through the book drop slot and into the library after hours.

Don’t…Forget to take a picture of this memorable event!

Do…Consider setting up raccoon traps inside the library. Hey, if a teenage boy can get in, who knows what other wildlife is wandering the stacks at night!

This is a picture of the book drop the 13-yr old "fell" through from the outside...

This is a picture of the book drop the 13-yr old "fell" through from the outside...

...and this is the book drop from the inside. How did the kid fit?!

...and this is the book drop from the inside. How did the kid fit?!

More fun surprises found in book drops include…

* baggies of doggie poo

* car keys (how did the patron drive home…?)

* Black widow spider

* a birth certificate

* money (our favorite!)

* pay check

* the flowers the library had just planted

Send in your stories at submit@merrylibrarian.com!

Attention! The Merry Librarian is looking for stories to feature in an upcoming theme-based series. If you have any true stories about weddings or wedding photography taking place in your library, send them in! Your story could be published on our site! Email us at submit@merrylibrarian.com!

8 Responses to “True Stories from a Book Drop Near You”

  • Chris:

    This made me giggle I love it!

  • Bethany:

    Wow! I can’t believe the lunch incident and the 13 year old kid! I wonder if the “baggie of doggie poo” was our story or if someone else was unfortunate enough to experience that.

  • Kathy:

    Many years ago in Library School, we had an instructor who used to be a public library director. She was a petite thing and full of stories about real life situations. There is a book called Snowballs in the Bookdrop – by Manley. It became one of our favorite books. Anyhow, she was dumped in the bookdrop from the outside and had to stay there until morning (before Cell phones!)

  • Rose Harrison:

    Yes, I’ve had money, but quite an interesting one was a pack of birth control pills. I didn’t dare contact the borrower

  • Tammy Paris:

    http://www.mrrl.org

    Partially empty beer bottles. We’re guessing the police were coming and they had to dispose of the bottles quickly. But the books were soaked.

    Also a lit cigarette. Luckily we found it before more than the foam cushion on the bottom of the drop had started to smolder and we were able to put it out quickly.

  • Stacy Smith:

    And of course there is the story of Dewey the library kitten, dropped in the bookdrop of an Iowa library on a freezing morning. If you haven’t read Vicki Myron’s book, you need to! (But have your tissues ready at the end)

  • Deanna Long:

    We’ve had lit cigarettes; someone urinated once, and my fav: 5 condoms each with one AA battery.

    Libraries: such nice quiet places to work.

  • We had a patron call 911 during a county snow emergency because the book drop was full and they couldn’t return their books. We appreciate their need to return things on time, but the whole county was basically at a stand still for 3 days as everyone coped with the snow storm.

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