"It’s pretty clear that if you are here reading this, you’re a fan of books. Now that we have that out of the way, we can also safely assume that you have used a bookmark at least once in your life. But what we don’t know is what you use for a bookmark. So we decided to make up some personality traits about you, based on what you use."... Click here to read the full article, including contributions from readers on what they use as bookmarks. Such fun!
A fun article from the Tin House magazine website...
"In Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons, Ingrid writes letters to Gil about the truth of their marriage, then hides them in used books from their library. Carefully collected over the years, these books are filled with “left-behind photographs, postcards, and letters; bail slips, receipts, handwritten recipes, and drawings; valentines and tickets, sympathy cards, excuse notes to teachers—bits of paper with which he could piece together other people’s lives, other people who had read the same books he held and who had marked their place.”
Inspired by Swimming Lessons, we went to the experts in unexpected ephemera and well-loved books—librarians—and asked them to tell us the most interesting thing they’d found in a library book. Their answers delighted, disgusted, and exceeded our wildest expectations. It was hard to pick our favorites, but here they are.
A few takeaways: novels pair well with bologna, don’t even try to get a secret code past a librarian, and our books tell more stories than perhaps any of us realize.
What’s the most interesting, memorable, or just plain weird thing you’ve found in a library book?
**Winner** A taco, perfectly preserved and pressed like a flower in the middle of a book. It was so slim you wouldn’t know it was there until you opened the book. —Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System
**Winner** I am a first generation immigrant from Russia. My senior year of college, at least the last semester of it, I had to write a senior thesis. I had gotten permission to write a historical fiction, a creative piece but one that would demonstrate my impressive researching skills. So, I chose to write about Soviet era Russia, primarily the political and religious oppression that existed. I was very familiar with this topic, having arrived in the U.S. as refugees due to the fact that our family was persecuted for our religious beliefs. I scoured the internet for books on the topic; I had to dedicate an entire bookshelf to those books. One little book called “Konshaubi: A True Story of Persecuted Christians in the Soviet Union” by Georgi Vins. Georgi Vins was a big name in our community. He was expelled from Russia, along with a few other dissidents, in 1979 in exchange for 2 Soviet spies. As I flipped through this very humble book, I landed on a page of photos. On one of them, I noticed three familiar faces. My grandfather, grandmother, and uncle’s. My grandfather served four 3-year sentences (total of 12 years) in the Soviet prisons for his involvement in the Baptist church. My uncle served 3 years. My uncle had just died that February. It was so shocking to see his face and the faces of my grandparents. I showed my mom, and she cried when she saw her parents and brother. It was, and still is, the most memorable and interesting find in a book. —Violetta Nikitina, Union County Public Library
**Winner** A letter in a sealed, stamped envelope that had never been sent. I decided to mail it. —Christina Thurairatnam, Holmes County District Public Library
Sonogram pictures of a developing baby. —Chantal Walvoord, Rockwall County Library
A piece of bologna! It was in a children’s picture book, so I think someone was snacking while reading. —Joy Scott, Steele Creek Library
Bologna. —Helen Silver, Spanish River Library
Bologna. —Kate Troutman, Calvert Library
A patron found a handwritten note which he took to be a threat on the life of then Vice-President Al Gore, reported it to the FBI and members of the Secret Service showed up at my office. —Teresa Newton, Lawrence County Public Library
Divorce papers. —Sarah Lilly, Robbins Library
A pseudo playing card of 5 1/2 hearts.—Hebah Amin-Headley, Mid-Continent Public Library
A pop tart, used as a bookmark. —Julie Gosner, Largo Public Library
French fries. —Nancy Martinez, Joliet Public Library
A laminated marijuana leaf used as a bookmark. —Masyn Phoenix, Tillamook Bay Community College Library
An uncooked piece of bacon. —Caroline Barnett, First Regional Library
A piece of raw bacon. —Laura Foltin, Bucks County Free Library
$30. It was in a book given as a gift to a teen. I suppose if the teen never acknowledged the money then the sender knew they never opened the book! —Susan Ray, Simsbury Public Library
$100. When I called the most recent patron, she wasn’t home, but her husband took the call. Respecting privacy, I simply said, “We have something at the front desk that she may have left in a book.” His response, “Has she been using cash as a bookmark again?” —Amy Gillespie, Hill Top Prep Library
$1000 in a book donated to the library. —Shameka Key, Blackwater Regional Library
A paycheck. —Jackie Schumacher, Stayton Public Library
A paycheck. —Jamie LaGasse, Shelter Island Public Library
A used, lottery ticket inside A Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living. —Lisa Crisman, West End Branch Library
Childhood pictures of a grad school classmate a couple of years ahead of me. —Spencer Keralis, University of North Texas Library
A note that said, “It’s Hard Interrupting a Donkey. They Hit Everything. My Only Neighbor Excludes Yall. Never Open Water With Heat Around Torches? Same code as always…I’m counting on you! Write me back in the book Reusing Old Graves, by Douglas Davies.” I figured out that it stood for – I HID THE MONEY. NOW WHAT? Our library did not own the book mentioned, nor did anyone in our county system so the trail went cold. —Karen Nootbaar, Northland Public Library
Visitor Registration form for the county jail. —Martha Amerson, Forsyth County Public Library
Kraft Single used as a bookmark (still wrapped, probably still edible). —Julia Welzen, Hamilton East Public Library
Pickle slices. —Kathleen Green, Harris County Public Library
I found a play ticket in a book from a play in Toronto 20 years earlier. —Julie Najjar, St. Mark Library
A whole cooked shrimp. —Emily Calkins, King County Library System
Wine label used as a bookmark. I went out and bought the wine. Delicious! —CarolAnn Tack, Merrick Library
Used pregnancy test. —Marika Zemke, Commerce Township Community Library
A patron’s social security card. —LaVonne Tucker, Montgomery County Memorial Library System
A photo of someone I know. —Patty Franz, Pamunkey Regional Library
A small cleaver, for cheese maybe? —Lisa Fladung, Jefferson County Public Library
Handmade affirmation bookmark that said they WILL get better at reading. —Mollie Goodell, Sugar Land Branch Library
During my life, like many people, I have used many weird and wonderful things as bookmarks. Even though I have hundreds and hundreds of bookmarks in my collection I still often use a scrap of paper, receipt, boarding pass or some other thing to mark my place!
AbeBooks has recently posted a great article on this very subject on their AbeBooks.com website. Check it out and make sure you also read the reader comments.
Read this great article in The Guardian about the Skoob Books warehouse in the UK who collect things left in secondhand books which they put on noticeboards and call the "Wall of Found".
Of course among what they find are lots of bookmarks! Here is a selection of them...
For an article in her local paper, Beth Schetroma of James V. Brown Library (Williamsport, PA, USA) asked her librarian colleagues to provide some of the most unusual things returned with books, or in books, or used as bookmarks. Here is a selection of what was shared with her. LOL!
(Having been a librarian myself, I can very much relate to these findings)!
Our patrons have used bobby pins, water bills and toothpicks as book marks. But the oddest things we've had returned in our books have been food items---a broken Oreo cookie dropped out of one book, a dried up really nasty piece of bologna was found in another, and several cooked spaghetti noodles in another. Needless to say, our rather embarrassed patrons had to pay for the books. - Cris Adams, Hobbs Public Library
At my branch we recently had $160.00, in twenties, come in with a returned book. Used concert ticket stubs, Diamondbacks baseball ticket stubs, PowerBall tickets, etc., are not uncommon. We get playing cards, baseball cards, post cards, and, not too long ago, we found a note written in a florid, loopy little-girl's hand which said "Mommy Have You Told Daddy About the New Baby Yet?" - Joe Schallan, Phoenix
The most unusual thing I ever found returned in a book was a passport - being used as a bookmark.... - Carol Simmons, Director Daly City Library
Of the many unusual "bookmarks" I have seen returned in books, my favorite would have to be the perfectly pressed marijuana leaf pressed between the pages of a Philosophy text. I was a page at the college library at the time and more than a little amused. I've also found money, tissues (used and unused) straws, candy wrappers, Twinkies (it was a gooey mess), condoms (still in the wrapper, thankfully), religious tracts, airplane tickets (we were able to return them to the great relief of the patrons), invitations (party, wedding, etc.), bus passes, checks, several drivers licenses and other IDs, lottery tickets (not the winning numbers), and a snake skin. I imagine this list will continue to grow as I don't plan on retiring any time soon. - Lynn Schofield-Dahl, Director, Matheson Memorial Library, Elkhorn, WI
A partially depleted package of birth control pills. Very interesting - one wonders about the outcome ??? A silver spoon (not stainless) with dried chocolate ice cream sticking the pages together. The customer was informed about the spoon and damaged book, but never retrieved it nor paid for the book. - Jeannine Humphris, Assistant Administrator / Operations Wichita Falls Public Library
My favorite thing found in a returned book was the waistband of a pair of Jockey shorts. Size 36. The most cash I ever found used as a bookmark was $80. We also found a bra in a book in the stacks, which I guess is technically another topic: Things Found in the Stacks. We were pretty sure the book wasn't returned with this interesting insert, but it certainly provoked some speculation about how and when and why it got there. - Carolyn Trout, Library Director, Joplin Public Library, Joplin, MO
"...the Omaha Public Library “has a new trophy in its collection of things used as bookmarks — a slice of bacon.”
The article wryly observed that “the library staff will not undertake to preserve it.” ~ Laine Farley, The Legend of the Bacon Bookmark, BiblioBuffet Website
Debrah Gai Lewis lives in Lillian Rock, New South Wales, Australia and is a bookmark collector, yoga teacher and SoulCollage® Facilitator (among other things).
ABOUT the blog
In this blog I highlight new additions to my bookmark collection, feature stories about some of my favourite bookmarks (mine and other people's), and share interesting snippets I find on bookmarks and related topics. Thanks for visiting. Enjoy!
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