A library volunteer came up to the reference desk today and said to me, “I found this in the stacks.”* That statement is not always followed by good news, but this volunteer’s find made my day: she handed me an envelope, one of those heavy-stock, off-white, flecked envelopes, that said on the front, simply, “You.”
“I think it was left there intentionally,” the volunteer said. “For anyone to find.” The envelope was unsealed; I opened it.
I immediately recognized the art and the text; the artist is Brian Andreas, and his StoryPeople cards have been some of my favorites for years. This one says, “they came to sit & dangle their feet off the edge of the world & after a while they forgot everything but the good & true things they would do someday.”
And here’s what it said inside:
I wish you could see yourself from where I sit. Powerful beyond measure. Obviously a blessing to your friends and family. How feeling overwhelmed at times is really common, and soon this cloud will pass, and you will again be able to see the full glory of your splendor in the sunlight. If you could see yourself from out here, you would be delighted.
It goes without saying that we’ll be replacing this card in the stacks. The library, after all, is full of treasures – some catalogued, some not.
If the premise of finding a letter on a bookshelf intrigues you, then may I suggest you pick up a copy of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It begins with sixteen-year-old Dash wandering in the Strand Bookstore in New York; he finds a red notebook on the shelf, nestled between other books by a favorite author of his. Naturally, he opens the notebook and reads: “I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
Well – what would you do?
*The area of the stacks where the volunteer found the card was around 305-306 in Dewey; topics include women’s and LGBTQ issues.