Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Learning | More Bad Ideas for Bookmarks

I had to laugh when Panteha blogged about the person who marked a page in a library book with dental floss. I shudder to think about how many germs there may have been on that thing. 
Bookmarking with a cat is highly impractical. Photo courtesy of QuinnDombrowski's photostream on Some rights reserved.
I have worked in libraries for decades now, and I continue to be shocked at the things people use for bookmarks in library books. How do I know about this? People forget to take their bookmarks out of their books before returning them in the bookdrop. Sometimes we even find books on the library shelves with bookmarks still in them.

Panteha makes a good point. You should never put something that may have been in a person's mouth in a library book. Things like bandages and facial tissues are just as disgusting; don't use those, either. 

I would also like to discourage people from bookmarking with items that may be of value to them.

Over the years, I have either seen or heard of books marked with the following items:

  • Checks or paycheck stubs
  • Bills
  • Letters
  • Greeting cards
  • Credit cards
  • Identification or insurance cards
  • Currency
  • Income tax forms
  • Personal photos
  • Poems
  • Art work
  • Love notes
  • Report cards
  • Homework assignments
  • Shopping lists
  • Recipes 
  • Straw wrappers
  • Candy wrappers

We try our best to let the customer know if they dropped something of value in the bookdrop. But sometimes we are unable to be sure which book it fell from, and there isn't enough information on the item itself to help us know who to contact.

It's especially frustrating to find lovely wedding pictures or portraits of loved ones. I wish extra hard that the customer will remember that they used them as bookmarks, and ask the library if it is in the lost and found.

A few years ago, a photograph of a pig on a leash turned up in our bookdrop. This was clearly not a random pig. It may have been a pet or 4H project. In, other words, it was clearly "SOME PIG!" I couldn't bear to toss it in the trash after it languished on our Lost and Found shelf for three weeks, so I have kept it at my desk. I have nicknamed it Wilbur, after the pig in E. B. White's classic, Charlotte's Web. 

I know what it's like to suddenly find yourself in need of an impromptu bookmark. I often use library receipts, or those annoying subscription cards that fall out of magazines. I have even used old envelopes or scratch paper for that purpose. Post-It notes are another great idea, because they don't fall out of the book easily, and can be moved from page to page without damaging the book.

What do you like to use as bookmarks, besides bookmarks?

Some people like to make their own bookmarks. Here are two books that give instructions for making them:

Step-by-Step Papermaking

Let's Knot: a Macramé Book


  1. I admit that I have used straw wrappers for a bookmark. I find it to be something easy to use since I'm normally at my favorite diner or Starbucks when I'm reading. :)

  2. When flying I tend to use my boarding pass as a bookmark. It's kind of fun to run across something like years later. You know exactly when and where you were reading it last.

  3. You wouldn't believe how many photos my kids find in books from the school library. Now, I put them up on the document camera, and have the students write a story about the picture.

  4. I had a chuckle at lunch today, as I recalled this blog post. While eating I realized I was desperate for bookmarks. I was trying to flip between two sections of a book. I inserted a banana in one section and an unopened V-8 juice (on its side) in the other section. Its hard to picture. Though precarious as bookmarks, these food items served their purpose. Both were in sound wrappers, so there was no gooey leakage. The juice can would have been prone to roll, but I had the book propped up with another book. I do admit that under pressure, either could explode--devastating for the book! I would never intentionally close a book on a banana.

    By the way, this was not a library book! (I promise!)