From the TTC to the book return: Lost wallets’ journeys show caring side of U of T

Emptying the book return bin at Robarts Library is a routine matter for U of T librarian Lari Langford. A veteran employee of nearly 39 years, Langford wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary on Monday, other than overflowing bins as people rushed to return books as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated. 

But in the bin, a brown leather wallet caught her eye. And then she noticed another small bundle of ID cards kept together with an elastic band. A piece of paper tucked into the elastic read: “Found in the Dufferin subway station.” 

The bundle of cards and the wallet each contained a TCard.

“I guess the Good Samaritan that had found these noticed that they belonged to people in the U of T community and wondered where to return them,” says Langford. “The book return was one of the only secure places on campus that was open on the weekend and in they went, I guess.”

Langford was able to contact both the owners of the wallet and card bundle – one a medical resident at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the other a student – to reunite them with their belongings within hours of finding them in the book return.

“They were both so grateful to have their wallets and IDs back,” she says. “Imagine losing your health card at a time like this?”

Langford jokes that if she were to write a memoir, this story would make an appearance, but is also quick to say that any other library staff member at U of T would have worked just as swiftly to return these essential items to their owners.

While all campus libraries are now closed, the university remains open to enable essential COVID-19 related research and to support students who cannot leave their residences. Even with social distancing measures in place, residence staff members are supporting students’ wellness through online community gatherings.

Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr says that the return of lost items is one of the many examples of kindness at U of T during COVID-19. She cites another example as students from the Faculty of Medicine banding together to offer domestic support for front line health-care workers.

“I am so pleased to hear that we as a community are showing our best sides during such an uncertain time,” Regehr says. “These acts of kindness, connection and caring are what will help us through.”

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