Yesterday I met with my writing buddy to work on our projects-that-won’t-die. She noticed a call slip from the Cambridge University Library tucked into my research journal, and confessed that she, too, keeps such things to remind herself that she was there. We also like to use old Métro tickets as bookmarks, and are delighted by stray coins and other detritus of travel that turn up deep in pockets.

I also hang onto library cards, more deliberately. Obviously my local cards (LRU card, public library card) belong in my wallet. Once I return home, “foreign” cards live (are supposed to live) with my passport. I checked the stash this morning: CUL, Bodleian, British Library, Newberry, Huntington, Library of Congress, along with cards for photocopiers at Cornell and the University of Chicago. But where are my cards from the Folger and the National Library of Scotland? Being a little OCD (especially when the alternative is grading final exams), I went on a hunt. In an old purse (how do I get so many old purses? I don’t think of myself as a woman with a lot of handbags), I found a stash of stuff, including my alumni association card (more or less a library card, for my purposes) and an oil-change card (one free for every so many changes) whose whereabouts I have wondered about for a couple of years. So that was useful. The cards I was looking for, however, remain missing.

Since all one’s information is now in computer systems, I’m sure it doesn’t really matter. And even if it did, my credentials have not changed. I can get a new card whenever I re-visit the issuing library, though sometimes having the old one does speed things up a bit.

But I would like to know where my missing objects are, and what company they may be keeping. While I was thinking about stuff-gone-walkabout, I turned up a measuring cup buried in a bag of kibble of a type no longer in use around here. Sir John said, “I bet you didn’t sift through that bag well enough to be sure your library cards aren’t in it.”

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