Libraries lend their books to members of the community, but sometimes they get more than books back in return — bookmarks. Through these forgotten items, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Central have a found a unique way to liven up their space and connect with readers.
While no one can remember exactly when or how the tradition began, Heather McKinney, EVPL writing and social media specialist, says the staff has been finding and displaying bookmarks in the workroom for more than eight years. After being sorted automatically by a machine, books are checked for damages or hidden content that has a chance to make it into the collection.
“Whatever we find that looks interesting, we hang it up,” says McKinney.
While many traditional bookmarks are displayed, Uno cards, postcards from other states, photos of celebrities, and hand-stitched designs cover the walls near the automated materials handler.
Sometimes more memorable and bewildering items are found. Personal documents, like social security and insurance cards, are often found and returned to their owners. The craziest bookmark ever left in a book? A real piece of bologna.
The collection not only serves as decoration, but also gives the staff a visual and personal link to readers.
“I like that it’s really representative of the community we support,” says McKinney. “It shows that no two readers are the same and people read for a variety of reasons.”
Like the staff, the community loves the bookmark wall. A photo McKinney posted on Facebook in October was instantly popular. Despite the attention, the bookmarks will remain a private staff collection for the foreseeable future.
“It could be fun to see some of the best displayed, but for now we’re going to keep it back here,” says McKinney.
Become a Bookworm