Mosaic mermaid and Navy ships, one of the photos found in the book return.      Photo by Kimberly Hegelund

This week’s article comes from Assistant Circulation Manager Kimberly Hegelund a.k.a. The Library Detective. Take it away, Kimberly!

From laptop chargers to wallets to baby’s blankets, I do all that I can to ensure that nothing that is lost remains unfound.

Just the other day one of our clerks was emptying the outside book drop and sorting them away when she found a set of pictures at the very bottom. Unfortunately, it seemed they had been returned with your books and in the process, fallen out. But luck was in my favor! The business that had printed your pictures for you had conveniently printed your last name on the back. So now my job was in full swing and I had a goal to find you and return your pictures.

We live in a world where technology gives me so many tools to locate you. I started with the basics, a Google search, but was unable to find anyone with your name in the state of Illinois. The White Pages were just as unhelpful. I started looking at the pictures again; maybe one of you had a college hoodie on, or just a state identifier? That’s when I saw it.
I never thought to look in the background! A majestic mosaic mermaid and Navy ships! You’re by an ocean…. I search for the mermaid statue and lo and behold, Norfolk, Virginia! I return to Google to continue my search. No luck, but I was determined.

Facebook-ing (oh yes, I went there) and I finally find you. I confirm with my colleagues that this is you in the profile picture. Colorado! Wow. A google search leads me to a work number, but unfortunately, it is your day off. I leave my name and contact information and eagerly wait to hear back from you. The week goes by; nothing.

I enjoy my weekend off and return on Monday to a post-it note that you’ve
called. Thankfully you’ve left your personal number and I call you back.

Our conversation is pleasant and light hearted and you tell me about your trip to meeting up with your Nursing school girlfriends in Norfolk. You share some of your memories and that is part of why I enjoy this job so much. You tell me these photos actually belong to your girlfriend who lives in Evanston (that explains it) and provide her information and thank me profusely.

Memories back in the hands of the owner and I am able to relax. There’s something extremely fulfilling about returning things to their rightful owners. It’s a job where everyone gets to experience some happiness along with some mystery. My job is interesting and constantly providing new experiences and stories.

Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library. She has been writing for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.