Thongs and MDMA at the University library

The concierges at the University library often find lost items in the building, like water bottles. But did you know they’ve also found MDMA and thongs? The UB created an exhibition out of the lost items. ‘Hey, that’s my necklace!’
By Michelle Gerssen / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Every day at 6 am, the service managers at the UB make their rounds past studios, work stations, and coffee corners, looking for items left behind by their owners. They find new items every morning; during exam periods they sometimes fill up a whole cart with them.

Most people come for their lost items that same day, as they are often phones or coats. But if no one has come for them after twenty-four hours, the concierges know it’s unlikely that anyone will claim them. And so they are put in a cabinet with the rest of lost and found items.

UB concierge Arjen Staal thought that was kind of a shame. And so he and his colleagues came up with the Lost and Found exhibition, which they have set up over the course of this week in the UB’s various display cases.


There are water bottles in all shapes and sizes; notebooks, most of them only half full before being abandoned; day planners full of appointment that may have been forgotten; padlocks; credit cards; a jigsaw puzzle, and brightly coloured pills in a baggy. Whole packs of Ritalin, too.

And that’s just the items from 2018. The coats, displayed on the fourth floor, were collected in the second half of last year.

One display case is filled with chargers and other cables; another contains sunglasses and jewellery. And thongs. ‘We find those surprisingly often’, says Staal. But how do they end up in the corners of the library only to be found by the concierges?

They liked one black, lacy thong so much that they framed and gave it its own display case on the second floor.

Extractor hood

One special find that they didn’t display were two grates belonging to an extractor hood. ‘We found one of them at a work station’, says Arjen Staal. ‘We knew it didn’t come from the building or from any of the builders that had worked at the library. The next day we found another one at the exact same place. The exact same grate.’

‘Hey, that’s my necklace!’ one girl says when she looks at the jewellery display case. She points, ‘that blue one.’

What if someone identifies a long-lost object as theirs?

‘You can have it back at the end of the exhibition, as long as you can prove it’s really yours’, says Staal. The exhibition ends on 15 March. So if you’re missing anything, now’s your chance.



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