Geocaching, or the search for Tupperware in the woods

N 45° 31.138 W 122° 40.971

These are the coordinates for the geocache that can be found at Central Library, known as Urban cache, plagiarized. The cache, which was created in 2002, has had enough visitors that its “author” had to create a second volume.  Central’s geocache is unique, in that it has a call number and an entry in the library catalog, but there are reportedly other geocaches to be found at Capitol Hill, Fairview-Columbia, Gresham, Hollywood, North Portland and Woodstock libraries.

The third Saturday in August is Geocaching Day, created by (The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site), so it’s time to talk a little bit about geocaching. An anonymous geocacher from Iowa visited Central’s cache the other day and he described it as using extremely high-tech equipment to find Tupperware in the woods. According to the history page on, the game began in May 2000, when the data from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites was unscrambled by the U.S. government and made available to anyone with a GPS receiver.  The first cache was planted a few miles from Portland in Beavercreek by Dave Ulmer who wanted to check the accuracy of GPS by posting information about its coordinates to an online user group. He called it a “stash,” which was quickly changed to cache (for just the reason you are thinking) and the games began. Ulmer’s cache is no longer there, but a plaque now sits at the coordinates and there is still a place to record your visit.

The only rules of this game are: Enter your name (and any deep thoughts if you have them) in the cache’s logbook and, if you remove something from the cache, please leave something of equal value.  I like that the large majority of goodies left in Central’s cache are those library-sized (2 ¾ x 5 in.) pieces of paper with the call number written on them (O-910.92 B668g). One of our veteran librarians tells me the reason why our geocache is in the 910s instead of the 620s (where our books on geocaching are), is because the owner of the cache selected the number based on his observation that the books on geography and exploration had that 910 number. After the fact (when we realized that we’d need a call number for geocaching), librarians decided the how-to books belonged in the military and nautical navigation section.

(How librarians decide what goes where in the Dewey Decimal System is a topic for another day!)

For more on geocaching, check out one of these books.

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