or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Lost and Found Flash Drives

   January 24th, 2012

I feel like I've talked about this before, but it's something that continues to puzzle me. Every week or so we find flash drives left behind in the public work stations after patrons leave - here's what we've got in our Lost & Found bin now:

Found flash drives

Most of the flash drives we find get returned because our policy is to check the flash drive to look for a resume or something that has contact information in it.

But of the others, no one ever comes looking. And it seems that every time someone comes to the desk to ask if we found their flash drive, none of the ones we have belong to them. I find this odd.

Two other things I find interesting: one is the different kinds of drives people use (and the ones that are the same), as well as the different ways staff has of marking the drives as to when and where they were found (all our public workstations are named after authors).

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8 Responses to “Lost and Found Flash Drives”

  1. Melissa Says:

    I have this same problem at the school library where I am currently working! I try to look for a document with the student’s name on it when I find the drive but when anyone comes looking, I never have the one for which they are looking. I have an enormous collection of flash drives right now! It’s bananas!

  2. John Says:

    I always put a readme.txt in the root directory with my name, telephone number and address. Unfortunately the only time I lost a flash drive it didn’t get returned 🙁

  3. mkelly Says:

    We, too, generally have an odd collection of left-behind memory sticks such as yours. We don’t take time to review saved content for identifying information, which I think is rather generous of your staff.

    I’d be interested to know: how long do you retain unidentifiable, unclaimed drives?
    … and I think it’s a hoot you’ve named your public computers after authors (we use letters and numbers)

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @mkelly: we don’t have any set policy on retention. We (try to) date them as we find them, and we’ll keep them for as long as we have room. When it gets full, I’ll pull out the oldest ones, format them, and then staff uses them for work stuff – I don’t know what else to do with them. I feel bad doing that, which is why we try so hard to track down the owner – besides, we don’t get a ton of them, so quickly checking for a resume or whatever, and then calling or emailing the person isn’t too bad.

    As for the computers, we’re still transitioning from Windows XP computers to Windows 7, and for the new ones we decided to go with a more generic naming convention. So, instead of Eliot, Gingberg, and Kerouac, we’ve got NF-2, NF-7, etc (which stands for non-fiction #7 because they’re close to the non-fiction stacks). Not quite as much fun, but actually a little more manageable, I’m finding.

  5. thediatomaceouscity Says:

    So what happens to these? Is there a specific time period after which they’re thrown out?

  6. thediatomaceouscity Says:

    oh NM I guess that got answered? Duh.

  7. Christina Says:

    We have the same problem, and we used to keep ours at the ref desk but it got really cluttered. (Back in the day, they went in the box where we also kept lost floppy disks 🙂 So now we check for a name to contact the person, and the drives are stored in the library’s lost and found behind circ. They discard unclaimed Lost and Found items after one month (books and DVDs go to book sale etc), so we don’t generally get too many piling up. We have a few old ones that we reformatted and have on hand to lend to patrons who need to print from their laptops or otherwise move a file and didn’t bring a flashdrive or the $8 to buy one of our new ones.

  8. Christina Says:

    and we too love that you named your computers after authors! Wish we could do that here.