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I used to consider myself an organized person who rarely lost anything, definitely never a library book. Now that I’m the mother of twins and a daughter who love books, I can no longer attest to this fact. In an attempt to reclaim some sanity, I came up with the following five step plan to use next time a book goes missing. You, of course, could apply these principles for any lost item, but I know it’s the library book you are searching for. The library has deadlines. The library wants money. And most importantly if you don’t return the book, they will know the truth, you were unable to keep track of a large 10 x 12 picture book.

Step 1. Check the Library Shelf

This may seem like wishful thinking, but on more than one occasion I returned the library book and it was never checked-in. So before you ransack your house, berating yourself with, “I could have sworn I returned that book. I must be losing my mind,” make sure it isn’t at the library.

Step 2. Last Known Location

The true crime genre has inspired the next few steps. You can apply some of their investigative techniques to your search. I always start with this one, “Where did you last see the library book?” Granted, the kids usually never remember, which requires you to answer it, but it’s important to figure out since it is almost always there, somewhere, hiding.

Step 3. Use a Flashlight

This might seem a bit of stretch to use a flashlight like an actual detective, but it works. I found gift cards, earrings, DS games (obviously designed by a childless person who never searched for a pin-size lost one), and library books by using a flashlight. Even in a well-lit room, the flashlight reflects off the item in such a way to help you see it. And, of course, it helps you to see into dark places like under the couch, inside the couch and behind it (books are swallowed up by that darn couch–always check the couch).

Step 4. Look Again

Do you remember the last time you saw an optical illusion? You tried to see the face, but couldn’t, even though it is right there in front of you. Or when you are staring at the “look and find pictures” and your kid finds the apple in two seconds, yet you can’t see it? The same rule applies here, it is in the location you looked, you didn’t see it, so look again. Trust me it is there (most of the time unless you skipped step 1 and the book is on the library shelf).

Step 5. Least Likely Place

You are have reached the last step. You tried all of the above yet you are still are empty handed. You start to panic a little about having to admit to the librarian “the truth” and then you realize, maybe you haven’t searched everywhere. Now it is time to check the least likely place you would expect to find it. I referring to under the mattress, inside another book or at the bottom of the toy box (all places I have found lost library books). I realize you don’t want to search these places such as the toy box because it is time consuming and would require you to dump the box of toys and then clean it all up, but you are out of options, it’s either clean or confess, it’s up to you.

Hopefully these steps will help you feel less frustrated, more in control and find that pesky library book so the truth can remain where it belongs, concealed.


By Cheryl Maguire
Photo by Jesse Brown Nelson