Bookmarks: Funny things that happen at the library.

“When a bookmark tumbles out of an old book pristine and unwrinkled, it is like a gasp of breath from another century.”

~Don Borchert

As many of you may know, I work in a library.  I was training a new employee this past week and when I showed her the Lost and Found bins, I mentioned a few of the items we sometimes find inserted within the pages of the books that come down the chutes.  She was a little surprised at some of them, and I got to thinking it would be fun to make a list of all the “bookmarks” I’ve personally encountered over the years.  What do you think of some of these?

Due date slips (obviously)

Postcards from all over the world

Airline boarding passes, printed with destinations all over the world

Brightly coloured Post-Its on of a 300+ page book

Price tags from articles of clothing

Receipts and tickets from movies, concerts, etc.

Old photographs

Facial tissue – and my particular favourite, toilet paper (thankfully it’s always unused!)

Credit cards

Library cards

Hair ties


Snow in the winter, grass in the summer

Lollipops – wrapped and unwrapped (and partially consumed)

Pencils, pens, crayons

Grocery lists

Electricity/water bills

Lottery tickets

Paper money in small denominations

Pages of schoolwork

Single playing cards and trading or game cards such as Pokemon

Parts of a manuscript for a novel

A handwritten note which stated we were the recipients of a Random Act of Kindness and we were offered best wishes to have a wonderful day (how sweet is that?)

Christmas/Birthday cards

Calendar pages

Payroll stubs – and paycheques!

Certificates of various achievements

Sudoku, crossword puzzles (always mostly completed)

Bus/train tickets

Cross stitch samplers

Sketches/artwork/doodles (including a child’s macaroni masterpiece!)

Origami creations

Lists of books to borrow next time

“Honey Do” lists

Cigarettes, not smoked

Drinking straws

Plastic cutlery

Oh yeah, and actual bookmarks of every size and shape, homemade and store-bought.  Besides the obvious (ie: the toilet paper!), we always keep everything in case someone comes by to claim their items.

Do you use an actual bookmark when you read print books, or do you employ whatever is handy?  What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?


  1. What a fun post! I usually do use a bookmark, but I will sometimes use little slips of paper. No credit cards, though! Those stay in my wallet.

  2. Thats wonderful, great list, makes the job more interesting finding these things, You get to know a little about the person who took the book out and returned it from what was left behind. Kind of like the ER Doc who lists what they find inside people/inserted or swallowed.

  3. What a wonderful job! Working in a library or bookstore was always a dream of mine. So second best was to turn my house into a library. 🙂 I do use an assortment of things as bookmarks though I have a LOT of bookmarks that I do use. That is an impressive list. How fun to see all those things come through. I’m going to have to watch myself now.

  4. Hi Sheryl. I usually use actual bookmarks or like you mentioned, the odd Library receipt. Lol. I cannot believe what you have found over the years! Quite the “Tickle trunk” of masterpieces.

  5. fascinating and fun! I always start out with proper bookmark then I lose it and resort to some of the above paraphenalia

  6. Now that is a list I could have never come up with. Wow, life is interesting for sure. I’m just a library addict who uses the bookmarks they provide on their counter when I check out. I keep a half a dozen at home so I have them available. Love this list. Thanks for the smile. 🙂

    • I love the bookmarks from the library – I actually used to collect them but then had to stop when my collection grew a bit too sizable to store! Sometimes ours have coupons printed on them for discounts on various events and services so I still grab those for the deals.

  7. I once found 6- $100 bills in a book as well as “beef jerky”. (by the way I found the rightful owner of the funds) We often say that we should publish a book as well with weird finds and unusual requests at the library.

  8. I’m a traditionalist… typical bookmark for me, although I have one unusual one made from a laminated vertical strip of botanical-themed Russian postage stamps. I confess that when I was a young whippersnapper (hm, being a girl would that have been “whippersnappette”?) I used to simply turn down the page corner. 😦

  9. Sheryl, your list made me giggle. I always wonder about the person who leaves a card, receipt or list in a book. I end up more curious about them than the novel. Thank you for this intriguing post. I usually use one of my own handmade bookmarks. But I have resorted to using an unused tissue. 🙂
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Handmade bookmarks are so wonderful – I love them when I find them in the chute, but always worry that the person who made them or the recipient of a gift of one will not return to get them back. Last week, one of my coworkers found an amazing one made of various types of ribbon and embroidery.

  10. Great post! What a strange assortment of things you’ve found. I often buy second-hand books and find odd bookmarks in those too. I have been given so many bookmarks as gifts I almost always use one of them.

  11. Had to chuckle about the toilet paper 🙂
    Your post resonates because I think we’ve all used trinkets from around the house … and also used some lovely “real” ones, too

  12. This is too much fun–the library really ought to do an exhibit! At this exact moment, I am using an empty plastic sandwich bag as a bookmark. It had chocolate in it . . . but no longer.

  13. I bet there is quite a collection of other lost objects in your library too! You got me thinking. I tend to use old tickets and postcards as bookmarks too, or a handkerchief, chopsticks, whatever is at hand! I once bought a French novel in a second- hand store in France and there was a handwritten note in it – a little love letter – arranging a meeting. It was so romantic I used that for years too!

  14. I buy rather than borrow most books, so I don’t feel too bad about saying that sometimes I just turn the corner of the page down. Usually I flip the book over, open to the appropriate page. Or, if it’s a hard-cover book with a book jacket, I use the flap of the jacket. Shameless…

  15. What a fun idea for a post! I agree with one of your readers: a display in the library would be great fun.

    I’ve been making bookmarks for my Little Free Library over the past year and keep forgetting to blog about it. I must do that soon and link to your creative list. I make bookmarks from old calendars, marketing material, leftover scrapbook paper and bits of ribbon from packaging. It’s fun to challenge myself.

    I’ve also marked my page with a business card, a price tag, a torn corner of the newspaper and a cat whisker. (Sorry, that last one is a big fib, but I’m just looking at my cat snoozing on the couch and thinking about the odd whisker she sheds). Anything goes in the bookmark department.

    • That is such a beautiful idea…I wonder if some of the postcards I’ve found have been deliberately chosen and placed in the books as well and are not simply random objects. This will make me look at them in another light when I find them.

  16. I also worked at libraries in Canada for a couple of years and loved those ‘bookmarks’…though I never stumbled on snow in the winter! It always saddened me to see books brought back abused and dirty without explanations but book marks show respect! Instead of earmarking it, usung anything that is at hand. Since I always read a lot of books at the same time, I indeed use everything that is at hand but I do like using postcards too. Becuase I so love seeing those nice postcards and thinking of their senders over and over again ;0)

    • I agree – bookmarks show respect! (Maybe not the toilet paper, though, LOL!).
      I love it that postcards are popular bookmarks – must be why I find them quite often! It’s always really interesting to see where they are sent from or purchased.

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