Field Reports from the Lost Book Brigade
Books are rarely permanently lost in the Netherworld. A diverse group of librarian adventurers go to incredible lengths to recover these precious treasures. And the due fines. The following are excerpts from actual field reports on returned materials.
The target book, Satisfaction In One’s Undeath, has been outstanding for approximately 237 years. Attempts to locate the book and borrower #17-hook-delta-38 have been substantially delayed due to borrower’s death and subsequent raising as a shade.
Upon locating borrower’s grave site, I was able to commune with the remains to locate said undead reader. Borrower, being non-corporeal, has been unable to turn any pages and has been stuck half-way through the story for all this time.
I have assisted borrower in turning the pages, allowing them to finish the book. In exchange for corporeality, borrower agreed to travel with me until enough treasure has been acquired to pay the fine (complete at time of this report’s filing). Including time spent together, this campaign lasted 3 years, 10 months, 175 days and recovered 47 books, 12 scrolls, 9 maps, and 7 small miscellaneous artifacts.
I am facing an interesting paradox as the book Hiding the Universe Behind a Bread Loaf has not been checked out yet nor has the author been born. Temporal records will show patron #49-bat-alpha-417 will never return it despite an otherwise clean record. They will take a space journey that will lead them out of the solar system, and then this entire sector, for the rest of their life on October 17, 2192.
The only acceptable method of collection has come from adjusting due dates and preemptively collecting “late” fees. The borrower will show mild confusion over this and my lack of logical explanation, but will be amenable to a temporary policy, “check out due dates migrate as necessary to preserve a good standing with the library”.
Records will show a collection of 100% funds necessary to replace the book by the time of its disappearance from this solar system. I will both be rewarded and scolded for this unusual policy by various supervisors, but overall, the timelines seem to agree this unusual course of action is the best possible scenario.
A Wave of New Patrons
Sailors, notorious for not returning their materials in a timely manner, require a special approach to collection. By partnering with sirens and mermaids around the Netherworld oceans, recovery rates have been rapidly increasing.
Sirens, in their native predatory practices, lure countless sailors to their destruction and sell or trade off any treasure they are not interested in. Mermaids are incredibly adept at recovering artifacts from sunken ships (and for the record: equally skilled at sinking said ship) and are similarly uninterested in keeping the vast majority of their findings.
Payment for these services has proven rather simple and to the benefit of all involved. Library recovery teams are sent monthly to pick up previously lost books, taking them off the hands of the respective water monsters, and delivering requested materials from our shelves. The sirens and mermaids no longer suffer from half-complete libraries of their own. Imagine, for decades, owning the first and third installment of a trilogy, and having to wait for someone to sink with the second volume! Recovery and circulation numbers are both rising steadily.