OSR: 1d100 Library Research Results

"Library Use" is a vital skill in Call of Cthulhu. I remember having a character who quipped, "You have a your revolver; I have my library card." to a fellow investigator. Later in the session, as hideous swamp-things from beyond space and time pursued us through the gathering darkness, the gunslinger called out, "Quick! Show them your library card!"

The internet has made archival work much easier, but sometimes, you need to get in the stacks and start flipping through paper. Like Joseph Manola's "Publish or Perish" table, the following results are drawn from experience. See also: Courses at Loxdon College.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

1d100 Library Research Results
1 Author has a brazen disregard for safety and best practices. The results speak for themselves. Well... scream for themselves.
2 Turns out two authors with the same name published books that share a title. Subject areas overlap slightly. 
3 Revolutionary method condemned  to obscurity by author's verbose style. Do you credit them or "discover" it yourself?
4 Everyone cites the book, but has only read the summary in another book. The original text is nothing like the summary.
5 Warning scrawled in the margin. Beware of... bees? Beets? Beams? Dreams?
6 Author's disreputable lifestyle left the manuscript flammable, perfumed, sticky, and stained.
7 Despite the dull title, it seems this book was just an excuse to publish lewd engravings and salacious tales.
8 Book is largely useless, but the papers used to bulk up the covers are intriguing. Do you dare cut the book apart?
9 Folio bound in gold and gems. Actually read it? What a novel suggestion. Couldn't possibly allow it though. Far too precious.
10 Raw information is excellent, but the subsequent analysis is laughably biased and insubstantial.
11 Found an ingenious solution to your specific problem in a footnote on a reference book about earthworms. 
12 Patron's child used pages from the book to make a novelty hat. Will throw a howling tantrum if hat is disassembled.
13 In a fit of future-proofing madness, author converted all numbers to base twelve and all spelling to phonetic characters.
14 Littered with translation errors, speculative etymology, and unique orthographic choices.
15 Horrible truth. Induces depression, apathy, tendency to drink, contempt for the entire field.
16 Midway through the document, the author confesses to a long string of crimes. Never mentioned again.
17 Listed as the implausible 97th print run, with an equally implausible original publication date.
18 Introduction written by someone passionately attracted to the long-dead author, but in denial.
19 Less of a "translation", more of an "adaptation". Less of an "adaptation", more of a "complete farrago of invented nonsense."
20 Archivist claims anyone who reads the manuscript is doomed to die by drowning. Cannot provide details or name victims.
21 Elaborate typographic puzzle broken when the type was reset for a second edition. Apologetic note pasted in back by a reader.
22 Proof you need is in a "forthcoming volume". Yeah, sure. Pull the other one.
23 Precisely the information you need, with a clear explanation and diagrams. A stunning victory.
24 Book is autobiographical and seems to be accurate, but is treated as fiction by subsequent scholars.
25 Vindictive rival bought and destroyed all copies of the authoritative reference work on the subject.
26 Inside cover stamped with "Return To Publisher For Destruction." Probably wise not to mention it to the librarians.
27 Author uses constant allusions to an obscure play cycle. "Like Vothgar's hammer, this..." "As Prismabene on Mt. Gorthod..."
28 Insufficient detail. Author is alive and will reveal the real story if you buy them lunch.
29 Bootleg copy of the book cuts off the bottom two lines of every page.
30 Almost identical to a work published a decade earlier, but with slight wording changes.
31 Fraud all the way down. Original research was faked, and all subsequent researchers covered it up.
32 Author assumes everyone has shared their life experience. Casual references to the normalcy of unusual passtimes.
33 Handwritten marginal notes link every passage to its equivalent in a holy text. Concordance gone mad.
34 Vital illustrated plates cut out and presumably sold to a collector.
35 Book was printed with small type, three columns, and no margins to cram in as many irrelevant tangents as possible.
36 Satirical work treated as a serious account by famously humourless historian. Entire period may be misunderstood.
37 Author references a map or figure that is not printed in this edition of the book. 
38 Water damage and black mold. Whatever is in this book had better be worth it.
39 Relevant information spread across half a dozen issues of an obscure bulletin, in alternating letters and counter-reviews.
40 Book was printed with large type, wide margins, and thick paper to make it look more impressive and authoritative.
41 Expects readers to know about an undocumented method. "The Kirchbranch Procedure", "The Restovane Inversion", etc.
42 Circular reference to the original document that sent you down this rabbit hole in the first place.
43 Author cites and quotes a non-existent supporting source with total confidence. A daring bluff or something far stranger?
44 Only allowed to read the document in a small room on alternating Tuesday. Cannot bring in food or writing materials.
45 Book used to pass love letters between two library patrons. Charming, but the letters stained the pages with cheap ink.
46 Every chapter peppered with a long and irrelevant  anecdotes from the author's childhood.
47 "Detailed and graphic descriptions" turn out to be a lot less detailed and graphic than you were hoping.
48 Page number gap in manuscript suggests a chapter was removed before publication. But when, and why? And where is it?
49 Oversized book is clad in metal with brass page protectors. Incredibly noisy to consult.
50 The work is surprisingly good, but its reputation is proverbially awful. Revealing that you used it would be career suicide.
51 According to to the introduction, the author hid a ciphered message in the text. May reveal the truth, but takes hours to solve.
52 Sudden realization that the author is just a pen-name of their supposed rival. Long academic joke or a socratic debate?
53 Book is wedged in the shelves. Structural binding. May bring down half the stack if you pry it out.
54 Book is just an eclectic heap of ideas the author couldn't publish elsewhere.
55 Misprint infuriatingly omits the one page that may contain the information you need. Must find the manuscript or proofs.
56 Book is always checked out every year by the same patron, on the same date you checked it out. What an odd coincidence.
57 Conclusions explained via an elaborate seafaring metaphor. 
58 Signed by the author three years after their death, if you're reading the handwriting correctly.
59 Due to a printer error, each page is 28" tall and 2" wide. Each line contains three or four words. Sadly, not a volume of poetry.
60 Greenish paper and covers seem to produce an allergic reaction. Sneezing, itchy red bumps, watering eyes. 
61 Author spends most of the wordcount explaining how their work will revolutionize the world, and not on how it works.
62 Agonizingly vague citation with no useful context. "See Smith et. Al." At least a dozen prolific Smiths in the field.
63 Author applies the popular (i.e. wrong) interpretation of a recent scientific discovery to an unrelated field.
64 Last reader apparently clipped their toenails while flipping through the book. At least you hope those are toenails.
65 Author's early work is good, but later work takes a jingoistic, cruel, and irrational turn.
66 Author is fond of acronyms, but does not provide an index or reference page.
67 Dire warning not to try what you're about to try, but no explanation as to why not.
68 Book has a peculiar odour that clings to fingers and clothes. Like incense and rotting pork.
69 The information you need is in a rare book, and the only copy anyone knows of is in the private library of a rich recluse.
70 Hypothetical experiment described by the author in worrying detail. They couldn't have actually done it... right? 
71 Could be a forgery, but it's so much more interesting if it it isn't. Evidence is inconclusive.
72 Author retracted and disavowed their early work, but in a suspiciously vague way. What are they trying to hide?
73 Archivist misread "fronds" as "fonds". Original work buried in crates filled with the author's dried fern and palm collection.
74 Book is a work of fiction, but is cited as a reliable source of historical information by subsequent scholars.
75 After hours of analysis, you realize the author makes no actual claims, but writes as if they did. Subtle implied statements.
76 Confusing explanation. Author is alive and will insinuate themselves into your schemes given half a chance.
77 Cheap binding glue slowly oozed out. Only the outer half of each page is readable. Inner half is a fused brick.
78 The book you need does not exist. Inserted in the catalogue by rivals/cultists, as a trap. They are on their way.
79 Library refuses to let you view the document unless you fill out many invasive and tedious forms.
80 Intriguing reference to a slow-burning academic feud. Shots fired in print every decade or two.
81 Deliberately idiotic thought experiment by the author has relevant applications to your problem. A bit worrying.
82 The book you need was checked out just before "the incident". It should still be among the wreckage/evidence.
83 Illustration of the author bears a remarkable resemblance to the librarian, who will sullenly deny it.
84 Author makes a minor translation error on page one, but builds and expands on it for the rest of the work.
85 Manuscript is extremely delicate, like dry pastry. Letters sometimes fall off the page.
86 Original work is lost, but it may be possible (if tedious) to reconstruct the core from reviews, summaries, and quotes.
87 Found an ambitious reference work. Only volume covers AA-AC before the author collapsed from nervous exhaustion.
88 Text is useful, but the illustrations (drawn by the author) are crude, unpracticed, and obviously inaccurate.
89 Author was clearly having personal issues by their later works. Cloying sense of depression and futility.
90 Book is a reprint of an update of a gloss of a translation of an old work on the subject. Novel claims are just noise.
91 Author uses swarms of footnotes, endnotes, and inline citations to conceal the fact that they rely on no credible sources.
92 If the author performed all the tests they claim, it would have taken five years of non-stop work. A bit suspicious.
93 Author's smug and oily tone inspires contempt, even if their work is relevant.
94 Extremely subtle fraud. Most people involved are dead, but a few are retired and could be blackmailed or shamed.
95 Book's index and footnotes are published in a separate volume. Only one is allowed in the reading room at any given time.
96 Author proposes a revised chronology to match their thesis. Requires two extra kings, an eclipse, and a temporary land bridge.
97 They say manuscripts don't burn, but someone clearly tried.
98 Introduction to the second edition denounces critics in ways that inadvertently reveal the work's many flaws.
99 Work itself is unremarkable, but the choice of what words are indexed suggests the author had unusual interests.
100 The book of adventure tales next to the book you wanted on the shelf seemed far more interesting. Enjoyable distraction.

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