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Strange bookmarks

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Dec 6, 2006, 7:50am Top

One of my friends on LiveJournal - alas, I can't remember who it was - recently had a discussion of the weirdest things people had found between the pages of books, presumably having being used as bookmarks by previous readers.

I think the strongest contender for 'strangest bookmark' just /had/ to be a slice of unfried bacon.

What are the peculiar things that you've found inside books?

Dec 6, 2006, 1:13pm Top

A license (expired) from the federal gov't to grow low-THC (industrial) hemp (a.k.a. cannabis sativa) for research purposes.

Dec 6, 2006, 1:30pm Top

A piece of birch bark the size of my hand

Dec 6, 2006, 2:52pm Top

A lock of hair in a tiny envelope.

Dec 6, 2006, 3:06pm Top

In our reference copy of the Qu'ran... a photograph of a woman's hand, resting on her (clothed) backside.

6likesbooksrs First Message
Dec 6, 2006, 3:10pm Top

Once, at our library, we found a moldy, flattened pancake, wedged between the pages of a children's book.

Dec 6, 2006, 3:32pm Top

Wow, we've now got bacon and a pancake ... I'm sensing a breakfast theme - anybody found an egg? sausage?

Dec 6, 2006, 3:46pm Top

I once found a number of endorsed checks, along with the deposit slip for a local business, inside a book I was shelving (how circulation missed it is beyond me).
When I called the person who had checked the books out, she seemed utterly unconcerned. I suppose she picked them up. If it had been me, ... well, I might at least have said "Thank you."

Dec 6, 2006, 6:31pm Top

"Bookmarks" I have found include:

1. paycheck stub
2. holy card
3. candy wrapper
4. received postcard (complete with message from sender, etc.)
5. newspaper clippings
6. various shopping receipts
7. trading card with illustration of vintage automobile

At a library where I once worked we had a bulletin board where we all posted all the strange (non-perishable) stuff we found in returned books. It was quite the collage.

Dec 7, 2006, 12:33am Top

To continue with the breakfast theme, I found a muffin wrapper in a children's picture book one time. Judging with the sticky mess on the pages, I think it was blueberry.

Dec 26, 2006, 3:39am Top

An 'Abductees Anonymous' card with contact numbers - a support group for people who had been abducted by aliens.

Dec 26, 2006, 4:56am Top

it's very interesting one should bring this topic up, since it has been in the back of mind for ages... is there an official term for this area of findings in books? if not, we should invent one.
anyways, i've been collecting them for years, and being a bibliophile and working at a library, i have amassed a box full or two.

among the most interesting?
*a package of gum with a small piece stuck to the back to keep it in place (yuck)
*a picture of a young couple in flagrante delicto in a refrigerator
*toe-nail clippings (god no. i did not save them)
*willow leaves
*foreign currency from lithuania
*coupons for a paris restaurant
*a stick of dried up shrivelled beef jerkey

very interesting, what people leave behind...

Dec 26, 2006, 12:08pm Top

My dad was a librarian all his working life and I seem to remember he said he once found a slice of bacon and, I think, a banana skin in books.

Dec 26, 2006, 1:25pm Top

See also the conversation on this topic through the "Things Found In Books" group at Foundlings.

Dec 26, 2006, 2:08pm Top

We're not librarians, but we have one of our own infelicitous bookmarks to report. Once one of used a set of keys as a bookmark in a seldom-consulted reference book and had to depend on the other to be let in to the house for several weeks, until the next time that book was opened.

In books we've acquired used, our most common find seems to be an airline ticket stub, followed by a receipt for purchase of the book.

Dec 27, 2006, 10:24pm Top

The most common bookmarks I have found are receipts from the last person who checked the book out and hold slips. One time I did get a book with a pack of gum (un-chewed) as a bookmark. At least the book smelled good.

17Neuromancer First Message
Dec 27, 2006, 11:04pm Top

I don't know if they were being used as bookmarks, but we had a book returned with 46 four-leaf clovers pressed flat between the pages.

Dec 28, 2006, 10:14am Top

Talk about luck!

Dec 28, 2006, 1:32pm Top

Speaking of smelling good, I just love books that have come back from Indian/Pakistani homes! It makes working in Circ or shelving worthwhile! I wish I knew what that smell was and I'd have it in my house all the time.

20ex-libris First Message
Dec 29, 2006, 6:45pm Top

I once found a slice of Pasteurized American cheese food with one bite taken out of the corner.

21Scratch First Message
Jan 2, 2007, 4:31pm Top

$700 -- seven crisp hundred-dollar bills. Circ contacted the most recent borrower, and she said her husband had given it to her to go pay some bills, but she forgot where she put it. (Yeah, all my problems are like that too.)

I also once found a tiny bag of heroin in a children's book. (Sigh.)

Jan 3, 2007, 4:37pm Top

I actually had a small colony of bugs (tiny spiders, if memory serves) living inside a textbook that I was given in high school. Thankfully, the teacher allowed me to swap it out for another copy that was not so... lived in.

Jan 4, 2007, 7:13pm Top

Okay, Scratch wins! Can anyone do better than $700 and a bag of heroin? I'm not sure what the prize would be ... a whole year of books returned in pristine condish?

Edited: Jan 6, 2007, 6:52pm Top

You forgot the part about the baggy being found in a children's book. You gotta wonder when you find stuff like that. I imagine the child isn't the one toking up (I hope) but really it isn't much different if its the parents. *sigh* Its stuff like this that makes me wish we could make it illegal for people with certain "problems" to procreate.

25jlsjlsjls First Message
Jan 6, 2007, 6:48pm Top

Not a returned book, but a donated book ... a botany encyclopaedia with several marijuana leaves pressed between the pages of the "m" section.

Jan 6, 2007, 6:53pm Top

Well, I have yet to find anything truly "strange." However, I do buy a lot of used books, and I've found a lot of old receipts and a handful of freebie paper bookmarks.

Jan 6, 2007, 6:57pm Top

Once in a second-hand copy of Story of a Non-Marrying Man I found a black and white photo of an unknown topless woman.

Jan 7, 2007, 12:56am Top

I was shelf-reading in (children's!) nonfiction and found that every dinosaur book had one of those little religious tract pamphlets tucked inside it- they were cute little comic strips in which one child explains to a classmate that God created the world in exactly 6 days. The reason their teacher tells them that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago is that the teacher has been brainwashed by the forces of Satan.
I won't describe the cute little cartoons found in the books on Islam during our subsequent search of the entire juvenile nonfiction section...

29stonechiper First Message
Jan 7, 2007, 11:30am Top

Once I found an old and dusty rolled joint, in a book about Woodstock no less.

Once someone returned a book with a fake nail used as a bookmark.

I've also found hair extensions used as bookmarks several times.

Jan 7, 2007, 4:22pm Top

We had a children's book returned redacted with post-it tape over all references to "fairies" and anything else magical. It was a fairy story! What did they think they were checking out? And what did they substitute in the redacted spaces?! I suppose we should have been grateful that it was removable.

Jan 8, 2007, 10:25am Top

When I worked in a bookstore, we would periodically find business card-sized anti-abortion flyers, complete with a photo of a partial-birth aborted fetus, sticking out of books in various sections, particularly the occult/magical arts, women's studies, and sexuality books.

From my own library, I once found a string cheese wrapper tucked inside one of my favorite childhood books. To this day, I still love snacking on string cheese!

Jan 8, 2007, 1:49pm Top

I discuss some bookmarks found in books in "About My Library" on my profile page (halfway down the page) at: http://www.librarything.com/profile/hadden
I discuss "bookaholics" and how the affliction is so common, and how you can tell when someone is a bookaholic.


Jan 11, 2007, 9:20am Top

I once found $200. in a used book I had purchased.

Jan 12, 2007, 9:11pm Top

Reading this makes me VERY glad I'm not a public librarian. Most of the bookmarks our students leave are fairly benign. We get beer bottle labels frequently, sometimes printouts from whatever AutoCAD design they've been working on, and business cards.

I think the strangest thing returned in a book was a pair of those flat reading glasses (or at least they were flat by the time I found them).

Jan 13, 2007, 4:52pm Top

It's not a bookmark, but I did find a very flat and elderly woodlouse in a book I was cataloguing the other day. The book was from 1650ish so it could have got in any time from then till now!

Jan 19, 2007, 3:54pm Top

We find a lot of photos, usually of children, and I'm always amazed that even though we display them at the circ desk, no one ever claims them.

37labeet First Message
Jan 20, 2007, 7:07am Top

When I was a teenager, my mother once made me dust all my books and clean out my bookshelves. Dusting means taking out each book and shaking it... From one book 200 kr. (app. 35$) fell out. A lot of money for a young girl! Since then I've found renewed motivation to dust my bookshelves. However, haven't found anything of interest since then...

Jan 23, 2007, 12:53am Top

#37 labeet; Do you think your mother put it there on purpose? I'm thinking of motivational hide 'n seek for my kids to clean their rooms. Or possibly motivational reading from our church library. "Come and read! You may be the lucky reader to find $5!" Bribery? You bet :)

Jan 30, 2007, 10:14pm Top

In a used book I bought, I once found part of an outline for a book the previous reader evidently planned on writing.

Feb 7, 2007, 11:29pm Top

This isn't all that strange, but I just bought a used book today, and there was a Magic Card inside as a bookmark. First time I've ever found anything in a used book.

Feb 9, 2007, 12:55pm Top

My favourite was from my copy of Civilization, by Kenneth Clark. I bought it from a garage sale and when I cracked it open, there was an unopened letter inside.I wrestled with the ethics of opening it, but there was no address on the envelope so I couldn't send it back. Its still sitting on my book shelf, actually.

42stepintomythimble First Message
Feb 9, 2007, 2:34pm Top

In a previous job at a public library, I put together a small exhibit of lost and found items including things left in books. It was a super fun display and we ended up leaving it for much longer than planned. It included all kinds of small action figures, sunglasses that spanned the decades of fashion, interesting and cryptic memos and lists, an angry note to circ staff about how the book being returned reeked of marijuana, etc. etc.

By far the weirdest item was a polaroid of a dad in the bathtub with his young child.

43Bridget-Eileen First Message
Feb 12, 2007, 3:30pm Top

WWJD? Probably not that.

Feb 12, 2007, 3:31pm Top

In regards to Message 28, I have to aks that age old question: WWJD? Probably not that.
Have you seen the documentary "Jesus Camp"? It's very good.

Feb 12, 2007, 8:55pm Top

My wife once found an ultrasound picture of a baby in a book (luckily, a light novel and not something on the politics of abortion).

46girlnone First Message
Feb 14, 2007, 2:40pm Top

I was discarding a huge stack of crumbling old books on Russia at the academic library where I used to work, and I found several interesting bookmarks, including a recipe for some kind of lemon trifle and a Vietnam-era pamphlet advising young men to burn their draft cards.

Edited: Feb 15, 2007, 9:37am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

48lynnlib First Message
Feb 16, 2007, 2:12pm Top

I work 3 days at my Public Library and mostly I find ordinary bookmarks. Occasionally I'll find receipts, candy wrappers, bills, airline tickets etc. The most disturbing item was a stack of about 5 photos; the top photo was a close-up picture of a man's genitals. They went directly into the trash so who knows what was on the others.

Feb 16, 2007, 8:01pm Top

> 48

You should have posted them on the bulletin board with the caption: "Do you recognize these? We have more of your pictures at the lost-and-found!" :P

Feb 16, 2007, 10:57pm Top

Of course, at the time I felt like I was in about 7th grade and had to "get rid of the evidence".

Edited: Feb 20, 2007, 11:55am Top

re: message 34:

oh! i'm wishing that i WAS a public librarian...just to find crazy things and tell others about them.

52adeleLIS First Message
Feb 20, 2007, 7:14pm Top

in our public library I was shelving and happened to have all of the massage books to shelve at once...I leafed through one to find it stuffed with business cards for a local aromatherapy store, i pulled about 40 business cards out of the books!

and I did once use a massive student loan check for a bookmark and flipped out when I couldn't find it...but I did after I tore my apartment apart!

Feb 21, 2007, 1:18pm Top

Chewed chewing gum, in a picture book. The pages were stuck fast, but I stuck it in the lunchroom freezer for an hour and it came off with only a little damage.

54bookwoman53 First Message
Feb 21, 2007, 2:05pm Top

I once found a used condom inside a book. Eww

Feb 21, 2007, 2:14pm Top

#54 - That would be a disposable book for me!

Edited: Feb 22, 2007, 6:39am Top

Yesterday while reading a book I got from the library I found the previous readers library card they had used for a bookmark. I've gotta make a trip down there anyway so I will turn it over to them.

Feb 22, 2007, 10:10am Top

#54 - I can't beLIEVE it! I was just discussing this thread with someone at lunch yesterday and she asked if anyone had found an -ew- and I said Oh, noooooo.

Feb 22, 2007, 5:15pm Top

#54 - speaking of, I once spotted a condom on the floor of a public library. I didn't take a close look to see if it was used or not, I just let the nearest library assistant I could find know about it and left it for them to deal with. Poor sod.

Feb 24, 2007, 1:46pm Top

I also once found an unwrapped condom at the library, behind a row of children's videos, of all places. I didn't look close enough to see if it was used either. I got someone else to throw it away!

Feb 24, 2007, 8:34pm Top

I once absent-mindedly left $50 Canadian in a book I returned my local branch of the Oklahoma City public library. (I was trying to keep the bills nice and neat.) Fortunately because the money was Canadian, they knew who had left it and gave me a call.

Feb 24, 2007, 11:10pm Top

I read a story in the online news today that a toddler picked out a book at a thriftstore and her babysitter bought it for her for 25 cents. Later, she went to read it aloud to the child and found a paper bag with $1300 in old, 1960's bills inside.

62rduell First Message
Mar 5, 2007, 3:35pm Top

We once found an unused panty liner in a book.

Mar 5, 2007, 10:35pm Top

Last year I found a banknote from Japanese Occupied Philippines. The owner never came to get it and it's still in my desk.

I also had a box of donated books containing $100 crisp new $2.00 bills.

Mostly I just find really cool bookmarks, which I started collecting several years ago - my collection is up to 800 now.

Mar 6, 2007, 4:25pm Top

I brought home a book from the library this week with a Dora the Explorer Memory Game card. There will be no match for the person who finds that card!!

Mar 7, 2007, 3:28pm Top

>>We once found an unused panty liner in a book.

66isaura99 First Message
Mar 7, 2007, 5:41pm Top

Oh, we just found a pair of live cockroaches in a book today! The woman who found it took it pretty well, considering...

Mar 7, 2007, 10:29pm Top

Speaking of cockroaches, when I worked in a big urban public library, I was working in a slum branch once, though the branch was nice. I saw a cockroach running up the shelf, and exclaimed "Ewwww, what's that?" The local person I was helping said with a lot of pity in her voice, "That's a cockroach", to which I replied, "Well, quick, let's get away before it sees us."

Mar 11, 2007, 9:11pm Top

#54 - I've never found anything quite that gross, but I did find a pubic hair in a book the other day.

Mar 12, 2007, 4:57pm Top

zcannon, that is way worse than a cockroach, in my opinion.

Mar 12, 2007, 5:48pm Top

That's exactly what I wanted to say too! Give me a cockroach any day :-)

Mar 12, 2007, 6:13pm Top

#68 I'm not trying to sound too innocent or unknowing, but ... how did you know it was a pubic hair & not some other type of hair??

Mar 14, 2007, 11:08am Top

In #19, Marfita said:

"I just love books that have come back from Indian/Pakistani homes! It makes working in Circ or shelving worthwhile! I wish I knew what that smell was and I'd have it in my house all the time."

Try smelling cumin or garam masala; those are spices frequently used in that kind of cooking.

Mar 15, 2007, 1:45am Top

me I would preffer a pubic hair they fall out all the time though thankfully not all at once.all a pubic hair says is that its likely someone changed their shirt near it. Though even if they went the whole hog and undressed for the shower it would not worry me. for sure people are more hygenic then cockroaches.

74Gyusan First Message
Mar 15, 2007, 4:51pm Top

A twenty dollar bill, in a book of poetry.

Mar 15, 2007, 8:13pm Top

Well, you have to say that at least they weren't dog-earing the pages!

Ewwww at the body hair though. You should probably wear gloves when you check books in!


76Dumbofeather First Message
Mar 16, 2007, 11:38pm Top

I've discovered pubic hair in a CD case (Barry White)....mmmmm the mind boggles. Also toilet paper as a bookmark- unused thank goodness. We all know that the books are read in the toilet but this was evidence I didn't want to deal with.

Mar 17, 2007, 10:04am Top

A marijuana roach. Patron who returned the book was right in front of me when it tumbled out. She gasped and snatched it right up, then left in a Big Hurry.

78newfiecan First Message
Mar 22, 2007, 2:42am Top

While weeding a couple of years ago, I opened up a book and a desiccated baby rattlesnake fell out.

Fortunately, I am not a jumpy sort of person.

No, I don't remember the book's title and yes, I still have the snake, sorta. It's in a frame on a colleague's desk. By the way, it was a whole snake, not just the skin. It had a head and rattle and everything. I live in Arizona...Cheers!

Mar 22, 2007, 10:11am Top

Okay, the rattlesnake is right up there with the $700 and the heroin. I'd prefer the snake, though. That sounds cool! I would be able to use it in some nature programming!

Mar 23, 2007, 4:21pm Top

Working in a high school library, we mostly get photos, schedules and homework left in books. We did have a lizard in the stacks once (and a dead lizard stuck in the bathroom fan on another occasion). The best thing we've found in the stacks is a dessicated, half-eaten chicken sandwich. Which clearly shows that our T.A.'s aren't shelf reading as often as they are supposed to ....

Mar 23, 2007, 9:55pm Top

In a used book I just bought today at the campus bookstore, I found a laminated, wallet-sized card from the B.R.A.D. ("Be Responsible About Drinking") Foundation explaining the dangers and symptoms of alcohol poisoning.

I won't dwell on the details, but I've had #54's experience too. Eww, indeed.

Mar 25, 2007, 10:43am Top

I couple of weeks ago late in the afternnon I was checking in a book when a cracker (as in Jacobs Cream) fell out. Patron said 'oh that was my lunch' and started eating it with absolutely no embarressment. I can't get my head round this for a couple of reasons - (a) he looked very nice and respectable, and (b)how could he eat a plain cracker on its own?!

Mar 28, 2007, 11:47am Top

Well, this wasn't found as a bookmark but someone left behind a mouth retainer on one of the shelves near a table in the HS library I work at.

Apr 1, 2007, 3:52pm Top

Again, not a bookmark, thank goodness, but we did find a nice poo on the floor by our security barrier. It was human as there is another few rooms between us and the great outdoors, and animals aren't allowed in. Don't ask how we knew. My poor colleague went to clear it up and a member of the public came over to ask her a question and almost trod in it eewww.
Object used as bookmarks include much as the above, tissues, wrappers etc, and also food.

Apr 1, 2007, 4:55pm Top

Getting away from the grossness -- I didn't find this in a library book, but I found a poem about "mother" written in crayon by a child in a very old book I bought used. It was so sweet.

Apr 1, 2007, 10:10pm Top

Yesterday I found a comic strip cut from a newspaper in the back of a copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell I bought last week.

87GoodbyeCleo First Message
Edited: Apr 2, 2007, 6:19am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Apr 7, 2007, 11:22am Top

I found a note shaped liked two playing cards in a used book I bought telling me to repent and save my soul.

Apr 7, 2007, 8:03pm Top

I was in a H-PB yesterday. In the Science section, I picked up a FE of A Beautiful Mind and found a 'Face of Reality' pamphlet in it (printed by some 'well-meaning' fundamentalist group). On the same shelf was a biography of Carl Sagan -- there was one in there, too. I ended up 'disinfecting' probably 5 or 6 dozen books by the time I was through.

Apr 22, 2007, 1:09pm Top

The Unshelved Comic Strip published a humorous series about strange bookmarks over the past week, starting on 4/16/07:

Apr 30, 2007, 12:43pm Top

Working in the Pretoria public library in South Africa, I once found a used Band-Aid in a book. Quite disgusting.

Also, our library was once targeted by a suspected Satanists' circle -- we found several Satanic drawings tucked away between books on the shelves, and a week or two later, I arrived at work early in the morning to find someone had forced open a window and thrown animal blood (cat's blood, the police guessed) into the library, splashing it all over the poor travel books ...

Apr 30, 2007, 6:43pm Top

I find things that surprise me in my own books, though nothing too gross.

The other day I opened my copy of "The Wizard of Oz" and out fell a newspaper clipping with a French poem about potatoes by John Hegley. Now I vaguely remember the clipping being stuck to my computer - several years before I bought the book. How it got there is a mystery.

Other than that, the most interesting thing I've found was a 1960s bookmark from a now-defunct bookshop, with a questionnaire on the back partly filled out by my then-teenage father.

Apr 30, 2007, 7:09pm Top

I just found cut out coupons and cut out recipes in the book I just read.

May 1, 2007, 5:36pm Top

Last week I found a Easter card made by a child, 8 coupons for a free donut, and a Sears gift card all in the same book.

May 1, 2007, 6:04pm Top

message #92 ~

wow, kicking_k! what cool memoribilia!!! did your father own up to the quiz or did you just recognize his handwriting?

i've always wondered about the people who had the books before me, and sometimes i've kept remnants of their handwriting if it falls out of the book... but so far it's never been anything by my father. or any other relative, for that matter. :)

May 1, 2007, 6:37pm Top

Oh, I recognised his handwriting - it wasn't much changed, but looked a little more old-fashioned!

He still passes on books to me after he's read them.

I'm afraid that anyone who reads my books is mostly going to get bus tickets falling out at them - it's the obvious place to stick them during a bus journey so as not to lose them, and they're long, thin and flat so they make good markers.

Still, they'll know how long it is since I read the book. The tickets are dated.

May 2, 2007, 7:54am Top

When I was in college, I studied ancient Greek, and my mother gave me the Greek new Testament that she had used when she was a college student, taking ancient Greek. The first time I opened it, out fell a four-leaf clover and a page of notes, on which she had doodled her name and my father's (this was back when they were dating). I saved those strange bookmarks!

May 2, 2007, 3:40pm Top

How sweet is that?

It might have been a bit odd-feeling if it was a name other than your father's, though.

May 3, 2007, 11:23am Top

Oy, I have a couple of photos of one of my mom's previous boyfriends: the one that went to Spain for the civil war and never came back. Verrrrry handsome. Doesn't bother me. That's fodder for an alternative universe in which I would not even exist. Oops, off topic! Erm, I guess I'll go put them in a book to hold a place and flatten them a bit.

May 4, 2007, 6:49pm Top

I just remembered when I was around 9, I opened up a book that had belonged to one of my aunts when she was a teenager. Out fell a triangular piece of paper with my aunt's name in one corner and two boys' names in the others. "Love Triangle" was written in the middle. I ran to show it to my mom and she couldn't stop laughing. She didn't let my aunt live that down for a while.

May 5, 2007, 5:45am Top

>100 missylc:, cool find on your aunt!

As a teen reader, I found 6 butter yellow, square post-it notes at the back of a library book, filled with pencilled notes on the book in meticulous, tiny handwriting.

The book was Ian McEwan's The Child in Time, and it must have been a university student or very interested reader reflecting thoughtfully on the themes of time, space & parenthood in the novel.

With some guilt, I kept the notes as an artefact of the kind of thoughtful reader that I wanted to become.

May 5, 2007, 10:12am Top

I got a book from my mom that she had in high school with a note asking that she be excused for arriving late since she had a dental appointment that morning. I asked her if the note ever made it to the appropriate person, and she couldn't remember. Although I doubt I would remember something like that either!

May 6, 2007, 7:17am Top

>101 betterthanchocolate:: that could have been me... except that I've not read The Child in Time. I get into trouble for filling other people's books with post-its.

May 29, 2007, 3:05pm Top

When I worked in a public library, a guy returned a book with a plastic spider on a spring in between the pages. When I opened the book it sprang out at me and scared the daylights out of me. The guy just stood there, unsmiling, totally deadpan.

May 29, 2007, 3:44pm Top

Now I know where all my bookmarks have gone!

I did get left with some questions after reading this, though:

How can someone not notice sunglasses, action figures, pancakes and other fat items in books?

#38 MrsLee--have you tried bribery yet? Let me know the results.

#41 DoraG--you left me hanging: did you or did you not read the letter?

May 29, 2007, 10:07pm Top

Cash seems to be the lucky find, but I did find a used q-tip once! Ugh!

Jun 10, 2007, 1:38am Top

I've had #54's experience too, but the patron forget to use the condom and just left the business. Eww, indeed. One of the library pages found the book shortly after "the deed" had been done. Oh...it was a biography of Richard Nixon, if you were wondering.

Jun 15, 2007, 9:25pm Top

>107 liberryn2: Well, I guess we all know how erotic Richard Nixon can be...

109Patient First Message
Jun 15, 2007, 11:26pm Top

I was working at Bird Library at Syracuse U. when a student shelver walked by. He was carrying a leather bound book with gold tooling on the cover and gold edges on the pages. Some idiot had slammed this lovely book shut on a loaded peanut and butter sandwich...no idea what the book was, but I know what I think about the student who did it.

On the other hand, I was later on doing a descriptive cataloging internship at the Onondaga County Law Library in downtown Syracuse. They had a few incunabula there! In any case, I found a thick Blackstone law book that dated from the late 1700's.

One of the pages in the middle had an odd-shaped circular hole in the middle of the page. There were flecks of brown substance around the hole. The pages on either side of this one had similar holes, but in decreasing diameters, until finally there were no holes on the pages farthest from the center.

I tried to figure out what had happened, then it hit me--someone had either dribbled or spit a mouthful of chewing tobacco into this law book. The tobacco had eaten a hole in the paper!

I had this image of a hot summer day with flies buzzing in the window of an office and some man falling asleep over a boring legal tome and his mouth opening to snore and his nose resting in the gutter of the book and the tobacco chaw dribbling out of his slack mouth...you get this picture.

I did my internship there during the summer and there was no air conditioning and I am from Alaska where summer heat for us is 70 degrees, not 90 with humidity, so the image of the sleeping man was entirely apt.

Jun 24, 2007, 5:01pm Top

When I worked as a page in my local library, I was shelving books and was about to put up a Chiltons Car Repair guide when a WRENCH fell out of it and landed on my foot. *OUCH* I told my librarian about it and she told me that "...it must have been a WRENCHING experience..." LOL That was some heavy duty bookmark, for sure.
By the way, that librarian became one of my closest friends and certainly my mentor...and to this day, when I visit her, I remind her of her remark about my "wrenching" experience...which happened about 19 or 20 years ago. : )

111MoiraStirling First Message
Edited: Jun 26, 2007, 10:44pm Top

So what I'm taking from all these comments is...

we each have a moral duty to devise all sorts of odd/interesting/funny bookmarks to "forget" betwixt the pages of a public library book (the better to amuse the librarians upon the book's return). Albeit, nothing gross.

Right-o. Mission accepted.

112racheld First Message
Jun 28, 2007, 10:53pm Top

I work in an academic library and recently when weeding an old computing book, I found an overdue notice with a $1 coin sellotaped to it for payment. It had been sitting on the shelf since it's return for 7 years!

Sep 12, 2007, 1:07am Top

#20, I have also found a slice of cheese with a bite taken out of it in a book before.

I have also found an unused (thankfully) disposable diaper in a book.

But the grossest would have to be human hair, and lots of it. It was incredibly obvious that the woman who had checked this book out was using her own hair to mark the book. And she had marked about 50 pages with clumps of her hair. Yuck!

Sep 21, 2007, 11:44pm Top

Ooo, I'm glad someone posted recently to this thread so I could find it. :)

#54, while I've never had the used condom experience, a colleague insisted she'd once found a used condom in a returned book.

Mostly, I've encountered postcards and photos, a fried egg (well, a piece of it), a sealed envelope addressed to a utility company (we mailed it), receipts, checks, bills, and once, when I was at the reference desk at a previous branch, a shriek got me running to the circ desk in time to see a cockroach scurry away. It had crawled out of a book being checked back in.

Of the non-bookmark category, I've found many food stains (coffee, jelly) and some stains I'd rather not have identified.

Sep 23, 2007, 12:15am Top

This summer I found a beautiful fabric bookmark with commercial embroidering of flowers on it in a used book I bought.

Because my idle hands make short work of anything that can be ripped, folded or twisted, this bookmark has become one of my most treasured possession.

Sep 23, 2007, 10:13am Top

Working in a medical library, we periodically found condoms, anatomy textbooks, and stains in the anatomy textbooks in the study rooms. ... Very disturbing.

Edited: Sep 23, 2007, 10:36pm Top

Went to the used bookshops yesterday. Today I found a picture in a 1980 French compilation of Robert Silverberg short stories (haven't added it to my catalogue yet). It must be a pretty old pic, judging from from the quality (fuzzy), rounded corners, and small nearly 1:1 ratio.

Sep 24, 2007, 1:59pm Top

I just found a picture too! I opened up a novel I bought at the library and out fell a snapshot of two girls -- we're in a small town, so I'm going to show the pic to my boyfriend, who grew up here. He may know who it is!

Oct 2, 2007, 2:41pm Top

Wedding photos. They weren't very good ones either.

Oct 2, 2007, 4:27pm Top

Update on the picture I found in #118 -- I showed it to my boyfriend's mom, who is a high school teacher, and sure enough! She's knows one of the girls in the photo and is going to return it to her.

121latendresse First Message
Oct 10, 2007, 2:51pm Top

A friend of mine was browsing in a bookstore in Germany and found an airline ticket belonging to someone he'd known twenty years ago...

Oct 11, 2007, 8:30pm Top

#106: I work in a small public library and we also found a used q-tip...yuck.

Yesterday we found a pair of tweezers, which is slightly less disgusting, but still icky.

Thankfully, those are the only nasty things we've found - so far. I'm sure we'll find something interesting tomorrow!

Although this does make me want to check those donated books more carefully - who knows what riches I've missed out on?

123jemawi First Message
Oct 12, 2007, 7:46am Top

I work in a public library and we regularly find books returned with strands of hair marking the pages - always single hairs but an individual book can have up to 10 of them (roots attached) -uugghhh!

Oct 12, 2007, 11:05am Top

When I was a teenager, and reading a science fiction story collection, I found a similar hair, but as the hair was marking the place of the book's one erotic short story it was shall we say from further below. Needless to say my friends and I had a guffaw over that.

125vivavoss First Message
Oct 12, 2007, 4:40pm Top

OMG-I've had TWO instances in TWO different cities with pieces of bacon on books. One was cooked, one was raw. My other favorites are a wad of used chewing tobacco and a french fry.

Oct 12, 2007, 6:20pm Top

Re ezmerelda: #119
I frequently use "out take" photos as bookmarks--special pictures that are too blurry, or otherwise ruined to put in a photo album or frame. I can imagine a new bride not being able to throw out any wedding proofs, and finding a good use for them. Or maybe, like me, the mother of the bride or groom!

Of course, now with digital photos and preview, there aren't many of these kinds being produced.

Nov 8, 2007, 8:06pm Top

A couple of weeks ago, I found an actual bookmark (it appeared out of nowhere on the reference desk) put out by the Australian government promoting a new website that identifies public toilet locations throughout the country. It was such a strange concept, I had to go look up the website!

Nov 8, 2007, 9:30pm Top

wow...that would be so useful! because i've worked in retail and we didn't have a public bathroom, it was just for customers, that would have been great for helping people who didn't want to buy anything to find a place to go.

Nov 11, 2007, 9:21pm Top

No return books persay but, plenty of stuff in used books I've bought. One of my favorites was the time I wanted my own copy of the complete works of Hart Crane. I was browsing a local used book store but was really to down on my luck at the time to afford anything. I looked under one of the display tables and saw a box of unpriced books and felt compelled to look. Sure enough there was a copy of The complete works of Hart Crane in paperback. I asked the guy at the cash, "How much would you like for this?" He said he wasn't sure. At that moment I noticed an American dollar bill inside (this was in Montreal about 10 years ago), and said "will this do?". He said sure why not. I wish all the books I wanted would appear, and pay for themselves in such a manner...

130ke62 First Message
Nov 11, 2007, 10:57pm Top

My vote is for a McDonald's cheeseburger, pickle and all! Actually, just part of the burger...

Nov 13, 2007, 4:30pm Top

It's not technically a bookmark, but when I worked in the A-V department of a public library, we had a video returned with a live cockroach inside it. Also one with a slice of cheese, and one with a bunch of ants in it, but the cockroach was the worst!

Nov 13, 2007, 11:25pm Top

My local library has fairly lively displays in the front lobby. I'm almost tempted to suggest that they host an "art" display of all the odd things they've found in books...

...except that it would probably encourage imitations!

Nov 14, 2007, 12:21pm Top

132> That's a neat idea. You could laminate them.

134PowellAnne First Message
Nov 30, 2007, 5:55pm Top

I found a book earlier this year with a pamphlet touting the "benefits" of castration! It had a very cheesy cartoon of what looked like a street preacher doing a move from Saturday Night Fever on the cover.

The main premise of the pamphlet contended that castration would guarantee celebacy. No kidding!

Nov 30, 2007, 6:01pm Top

Okay, guess I cannot spell. Celibacy. Oops!

Dec 1, 2007, 7:42am Top

It's like the clergy's answer to those viagra commercials where the guys are dancing because everything is working again, in this case the preacher is dancing because everything is not. lol. What was the book it was left in?

Dec 1, 2007, 9:11am Top

We just had a spate of religious tracts left in books-doubt they were book marks, though. I still don't know that they're out of all the books. Plus, quite a few were placed on empty shelf space-I must have thrown out about 150 of them! I got so annoyed by some of them, I stuffed the prayer request box with them. Then I felt bad and took them out (I have keys to EVERYTHING-I feel like a school janitor).

Dec 1, 2007, 9:36am Top

#137--I'm sorry the religious tracts were left around the library like that. I'm a Christian and have been known to give out tracts when I feel it is appropriate (i.e. to someone who has done a service for me and I'm giving them a *generous* tip along with the tract, or after a conversation with someone who seemed to want to know more) but placing large quantities in a place that isn't a rack where curious people can take them at their leisure, is rude. I wouldn't want other literature--their ideas, philosophies, political view--cluttering up public places. Please accept an apology from me on behalf of all well-meaning Christians.

Dec 1, 2007, 12:22pm Top

When I worked as a page I found all sorts of things, the strangest being postcards from someone writing from prison, and a calendar of events for a social club for "men over 6 foot 4."

140neveth First Message
Dec 4, 2007, 2:06am Top

After my Dad died I inherited most of his Heinlein collection since Mom didn't want to keep ALL of it. In one of the books was a picture of me as a baby - a nice memory to keep.

Though when I was working at the university library I think the weirdest thing I found was somebody's sock in a book on chemistry.

Dec 11, 2007, 11:40am Top

The other day, I was reading a library copy of Passage by Connie Willis, which had a few dry rolled oats squashed between the pages. (They hadn't left any marks, so I just shook them out).

As for the people leaving hair in books: they may be trichotillomania sufferers. My husband occasionally leaves single pulled hairs in the pages of whatever he's reading, and it drives me loopy! He only does it with books he owns, though.

Dec 12, 2007, 12:47pm Top

Hooray, I can finally post here!

A woman just returned three books, and when I opened one of them, a shower of Christmas tree pine needles came out!

143melawen First Message
Edited: Dec 12, 2007, 2:04pm Top

I had quite a surreal experience at the public library the other day - I hadn't been for simply ages and was browsing the shelves when a decorated lolly stick fell out of a book - it was clearly a child's handiwork and I am sure that they will miss it, but I couldn't bear to throw it away because it had my first name on it!!! How coincidental is that!!

Dec 12, 2007, 2:14pm Top

>140 neveth: Didn't Harry Potter do the sock in the book thing? Maybe he was hanging out in your library. ;-)

Dec 12, 2007, 2:34pm Top

>144 varielle:-That's it, someone was trying to fire the library's house elf!

Dec 12, 2007, 9:56pm Top

I'm my libraries only page, and I -so- feel like the house elf sometimes. Just rushing about, barely seen, making books disappear into their proper places.

Back on topic, today when I was putting a book back into place one of those postcards from Santa fell out.

And this isn't bookmarks, but once I found someone had gone through sticking little cards for a (really horribly bad) credit card offer in all of the financial advice books. I took them all out, because I figure that's the last thing people that need financial help need. They'd probably figure that out if they read the books, but I took them out just in case.

Dec 15, 2007, 3:22am Top

> #140, 144, 145 (re socks)

Check out this thread on the Site Improvements forum.

One of the proposed improvements is a Sock field :-)

Dec 15, 2007, 10:03am Top

I noticed an odd smell coming from the nonfiction section of my middle school library a few years ago and found a piece of smoked salmon in a book!

Dec 15, 2007, 2:32pm Top

Wow, smoked salmon, those middle schoolers have very sophisticated tastes! :D

I've found utility bills, student visa papers, airline tickets, banana peels, and like #54 and a few others...the dreaded used condom. Nothing really prepares you in library school for the weird things that happen in libraries...

Dec 15, 2007, 2:34pm Top

I haven't found any odd things (yet) in my books.

Dec 15, 2007, 9:06pm Top

One of my coworkers found a "French Manicures Made Easy!" set in a juvenile nonfiction book the other day.

Dec 17, 2007, 9:46am Top

One of my coworkers found the makings of a sandwich spread out through the book. There was two pieces of bread and somekind of meat (ham or turkey) and a piece of cheese.

Dec 17, 2007, 3:08pm Top

Not technically a book mark...
When some people left the country, I inherited their library. I was looking through the books for something to read one day and came across a book that looked mildly interesting. Inside the cover it was inscribed from the author to her father! I wondered if someone had just done it for fun, or if the author hadn't found it when the dad died, or he cared so little for the book...I was curious about the story, but it was long before the Internet so I couldn't look up the author or anything and I no longer have that book--as I said "mildly interesting."

Dec 24, 2007, 3:15am Top

Recently, when I bought a used book (by Poppy Z Brite), I found three post it sticked in it.

There were from me, in fact, written some years ago then sticked in this book and offered to an ex-girlfriend.

Jan 1, 2008, 1:31pm Top

Plenty of holiday photos, postcards, etc - they're the most common I find, other than actual bookmarks.

I found a credit card used as a bookmark, once - the book had been dropped in the returns box so the card had fallen out before I picked it up, but close enough. Students with too much money, obviously ;-)

(We then rather terrified the person who'd returned the book - put the name into the system, discovered we had a phone number for them, called them and said "Hi, we have your credit card..." - it turned out they were sitting upstairs)

Edited: Jan 3, 2008, 4:35pm Top

I am currently using postcards, tickets to go up the Empire State building, a ticket to go into a monastery, a baby photo of my son (who is now married), and a ribbon from some gourmet coffee item. I recently lost a bookmark I had cross stitched in Spanish about 12 years ago. If you come across it, let me know. I'd like it back! :-)

Edited spelling

Jan 3, 2008, 3:56pm Top

We had a dvd returned in a sock recently. They had either lost the case or we had the case and they returned the disk. They had dropped it off over night in our outside book drop. After the initial shock, I thought it was rather ingenious and considerate...the dvd remained unscratched.

Jan 7, 2008, 4:28am Top

In Australia we don't have crazies who put flyers in library books. Only in America can you find such people. I found a receipt for a book that I bought in a book that I bought years ago (a receipt for 1 copy of the Neon Genesis Evangelion box set, found in Watchmen by Alan Moore). It's funny how two geeks make a nerd in the long run...

Plus in a copy of Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King I found a slater that was squashed... eww...

I also found a Warhammer 40,000 pamphlet folded up in a copy of Catcher in the Rye that my Mum bought me when I was 16, the things you find that remind you of your youth, once youth's flower dims the petals get used as bookmarks I guess. Not that my youth's flower has dimmed yet, I just don't play 40k anymore. Still have all my old models though... (sigh)

Jan 7, 2008, 10:47am Top

>157 agentrv007:
Something tells me another sock might be on the way.

Jan 8, 2008, 9:06am Top

TeenAuthor I think you need to translate for un non-Australians.

*What is a slater?*

Or would I rather not know?

Jan 8, 2008, 9:32am Top

A slater is a grey insect that is flat and crawls on many legs. I think you only find them in Australia, but Jack Slater was the name of Arnie's character in Last Action Hero, so I couldn't be certain...

162loscheiner First Message
Jan 8, 2008, 7:06pm Top

The other day I found a winning lottery ticket ($30!) in a book returned to our school library. Unfortunately/fortunately, the book was not one of our library books (we get this all the time--- many are "donations" of very used books). I couldn't track down the rightful winner; I went to sushi instead.

163dawglover First Message
Jan 11, 2008, 10:35pm Top

I think the term of art is bibliort

164ZiaSun First Message
Jan 12, 2008, 1:56am Top

We also save found items on "the wall" behind the clerk desk. It's very cool. One wall full got taken down a year ago, and I saved the items. My fav. was a 3x5 card found in "Are You the One For Me?" with a chart of 5 mens names and underneath lists of their qualities, like: liar, controlling, selfish, alcoholic, druggie, unfaithful, jobless, space case, temper.... only Gary was just a druggie without the other bad qualities. Maybe he won.

Feb 8, 2008, 3:18pm Top

Older thread, I know, but I just found a bookmark in a donated book that deserves mention: pictures from someone's EGD. It's a lovely esogaphus, looks healthy to me. Definitely can't see any ulcers or anything, and it's a nice healthy color.

This one goes into my "keep" pile.

Feb 24, 2008, 9:45pm Top

1) a tarot card (The magician) stuck in a library book. I found this as a library patron in high school and have since found myself occasionally going through library books and used books to see what else I can find. Is this what you librarians mean by "weeding"?

2) My parents bought me a very used first edition of The Glorious Adventure by Richard Halliburton which had newspapers clippings of many of Halliburton's real life adventures, such as swimming the Panama Canal, stuffed between the pages.

Feb 25, 2008, 12:16pm Top

>166 sempereformata:-No, weeding is a (typically) long and arduous process of going through collections and getting rid of out-of-date, superfluous, or damaged materials, removing them from the catalogs, and disposing of them properly. Then there's all the fun of getting replacement materials. Weeding is more like moving, when you go through everything and start thinking "Why did I keep this crap?" but with more record-keeping.

Feb 25, 2008, 8:09pm Top


Feb 25, 2008, 8:57pm Top

ugh! I remember weeding last year, it was very interesting to find all the nonfiction books with really really outdated info. It is a little painful though as most of the books are so old they must be trashed. Felt a little sac religious destroying books!

Feb 26, 2008, 8:48am Top

>169 Kentanner11:, I was in the kids school library the other day and found a non-fiction book in the fiction area. I gave it to the librarian. What a chore when someone accidently or unthinkingly puts a book in the wrong place. How do you ever find it?

Re: destroying books
if the books are old or old looking some people like to "alter" them with rubber stamping. It might be worth it to offer them for sale or as give aways for that purpose. I like old book pages for backgrounds to the card stamping I do.

Of course, hopefully you are at least recycling them!

Feb 26, 2008, 10:54am Top

There's a public library in New Braunfels, Texas, that takes the books that NOBODY will take (they can't even give them away for free), like Reader's Digest Condensed, or old math texts, and cuts them using a bandsaw into shapes. Part of the spine remains intact so it's still a book, but the whole book is now the shape of a sitting cat, or a Scotty dog, or a teapot, or a house. Then people are willing to pay $8 apiece for them, to make scrapbooks! You can remove pages to paste in bulky stuff, glue things over old pages, incorporate the original text into your scrapbook, etc.

They will sell these by mail for reasonable shipping. It's the New Braunfels Friends of the Library. I bought a bunch via mail to give as gifts: cats for people with cats, dogs for dog people, a butterfly for someone who doesn't happen to have pets.

I haven't made a scrapbook out of mine yet, but plan to -- a scrapbook of my cats, naturally!

Mar 6, 2008, 12:37am Top

>169 Kentanner11:, back in the mid-1980s, I took over a young adult department in a branch in a large urban library system that hadn't had a YA librarian in many years. The collection was in poor shape. First thing I had to do was weed. The first book I weeded was an astronomy book that mentioned the upcoming moon landing. The copyright was 1969! Hardly helpful to kids doing homework in 1987.

Mar 6, 2008, 12:21pm Top

About 3 years ago our high school library was renovated and we had to pack everything up and put half in storage while we ran a "frontier library" in the cafeteria. We took the opportunity to weed as we unpacked after the renovation.

We had astronomy books that pre-dated the moon landing; geology books that pre-dated the theory of plate tectonics; lots of books about the Soviet Union from the 1960's; some hilarious secretarial handbooks from the 50's; and far too many books that hadn't been checked out in my lifetime!

The school was built in 1959 and I'm sure we still had most of the original collection on the shelves ... apparently weeding was not a priority for any of the librarians in the 20th century :) We 21st century folks, on the other hand, have been aggressively weeding out the old, outdated and (far to often) falling apart at the seams.

Mar 8, 2008, 5:35pm Top

I've just found this thread, and am sooo enjoying the amusement - though it does leave me feeling the need to shake my library books over a trash can before I open them lest ... condoms? really? ... fall out.

>In a used book I bought, I once found part of an outline for a book the previous reader evidently planned on writing.

I particularly laughed at this one, then hoped it wasn't found in Palo Alto, or that if it was the evidence is gone. I definitely use scrap paper sometimes.

My favorite bookmarks are small billls from foreign countries I've visited. Gives me a double dip: going to read and remembering a wonderful place I've been.

Mar 27, 2008, 4:42pm Top

@ 161: Slaters are definitely called that in Scotland. I don't know if they're exactly the same insect as you have in Australia, though. In England people call them woodlice, and I've heard (can't confirm) that they're called pillbugs in the States.

And I wouldn't swear I've _never_ found one in a book.

"Slater" is also the usual Scottish term for the man who puts slates on a roof, so I suppose that's where the name comes from.

The other week I nearly returned a library book with a payslip still in it as a marker. Oops.

Mar 27, 2008, 4:55pm Top

> 175 You can tell what part of the states someone is from by what they call that particular bug. In the north it's a pillbug, in the south it's a roly poly.

Mar 27, 2008, 4:58pm Top

>176 varielle:
In northern Indiana it's a roly-poly.

Mar 27, 2008, 6:08pm Top

It is a roly-poly in California, Oklahoma and Illinois, too. Pill bug must be a New England thing?

Edited: Mar 27, 2008, 6:20pm Top

I have not found woodlices, but I did once find a live House Centipede (In one of my Lucky Luckes, to be precise); which was certainly one of few book scares I've ever had. I think the place has a small infestation because I've seen quite a few over the last few months.

Edited: Mar 27, 2008, 6:38pm Top

I've heard them called sal bugs too, in California.

Actually, I've heard them called all three names. I'm afraid this regionalism is probably disappearing due to people moving around.

Mar 27, 2008, 7:52pm Top

A few days ago I found chewing gum (chewed) that had been used as a bookmark. The person had shaped it, and it was sticking out of the top.

My favorite bookmark, though, was one my godson found a few years back. His mother had visited a thrift store and allowed him to get a few 10 cent paperbacks. They got home and he began reading one of the books--and discovered a hundred dollar bill!

Mar 28, 2008, 9:34pm Top

I grew up (in southern CA, with parents from southern Ohio) calling them pill bugs, then in high school I had a friend who called them roly polys (she also grew up in So Cal but her parents were from Holland). I've never found any in a book, though, just flower beds :)

Apr 2, 2008, 6:57pm Top

roly poly's (i'm a socal girl!) are kinda thick for books...are you sure you didn't find silver fish in them? silver fish are naaaaaasty...roly poly's are cute and fun! i used to collect them when i was a kid (then i'd let them all go at the end of the day)

Apr 2, 2008, 7:01pm Top

Silver fish eat paper so finding them in a book would be a bad thing.

Apr 2, 2008, 7:25pm Top

ugh, tell me about it, i used to have the basement room right next to the laundry room in highschool...so many half eaten books... :(

Apr 3, 2008, 8:12pm Top

Here's the Wikipedia article about the woodlouse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodlouse

Oh how I love Wikipedia! Under common names it looks like the slater, pill bug, sow bug and roly poly are all the same critter. I'm from California (Central Valley) and I've heard it called pill bug, potato bug, sow bug AND roly poly : ) We used to play with them, too. It was so fun to watch them curl into a ball.

Apr 3, 2008, 9:34pm Top

In my family, potato bugs are Jerusalem crickets -- ugly things with huge heads! Once when I was little we had one in the house under the TV console and when my dad went to catch it to put it outside, it threatened him with its front legs. Freaked me out! :)

Apr 3, 2008, 10:38pm Top

When I was a kid, here in Southern California, we called the wood louse a "pill bug" too.

Ah, Jerusalem Crickets! We called *those* "dead baby bugs." Hideous little critters.

Apr 6, 2008, 6:19pm Top

This Midwestern girl (Kansas and Chicago area, though I'm now west coast) calls them roly poly. But maybe that's because my mom is from the south?

And just hearing the word silverfish gives me the creaps.

Edited: Apr 7, 2008, 6:58pm Top

eeeew! potato bugs might be the worst of all...i woke up one night and heard a funny sound...turned on my beside lamp and saw one walking across the floor...I COULD HEAR IT WALKING! that is just not right!...but at least i've never found one in a book.

Apr 10, 2008, 11:51am Top

A slice of processed American cheese, thank goodness still in the wrapper.

Apr 21, 2008, 12:04pm Top

I grew up (in California) calling the ones that rolled up pill bugs and the ones that didn't sow bugs. We had potato bugs, too, but my Midwestern mother always called a potato bug a "child of the earth." Don't know where that came from, but it made me like them more.

Apr 21, 2008, 1:36pm Top

I found $500 worth of American Express Traveler's Checks from 3 month prior. When I called the owner of the checks, he said he had cancelled them but did wonder what had happened to them. He had taken the book on vacation and had used them to mark a page and forgot about it.

Apr 21, 2008, 11:17pm Top

More money! At the public library we found $200 in $20 bills, called the borrower and received NO THANK YOU! In fact, she rather implied that we might have considered keeping it. Happily, she moved away. In the elementary library, $65 in Hannukah Money by Shalom Alekim, sadly had sat there for over 2 years, so the owner couldn't be found. That money became a couple of new books for the school.

Apr 29, 2008, 9:50pm Top

I found a slightly rusty nail tucked into a book yesterday, with the head protruding neatly to mark the place. This could be understandable I suppose, but it was a romance novel returned by a well-dressed woman who I couldn't ever envision holding a rusty nail...

May 5, 2008, 1:39pm Top

I think one of the most strangest book marks found once..was when I was at the circulation of my library. One of the pages actually found a thong in one of the book. That was very unexpected and the book wasn't even one of those book materials.

May 5, 2008, 3:49pm Top

I once found a $20 bill and a list of Tea in a book from a used bookstore. I recognized the handwriting as that of a tea-drinking former co-worker.
Also, I've found an envelope addressed to a utility company, but it was unsealed. The check inside, I believe, was dated in the 1970's.

May 11, 2008, 3:00pm Top

A prescription for incontinence-related medical equipment. I was very sad, thinking of the one who lost said prescription.

I do love to find people's grocery lists in cookbooks.

May 15, 2008, 10:29am Top

After reading *all* these posts, I wish there was one big bulletin board where everything could be posted. That would be truly edifying for patrons.

I once checked out the book 1984, and there was a class picture of a high schooler ... from 1984.

Growing up, I read a lot of my parents books. At the end of The Front Runner, when it gets *really* sad, I found that my mom had marked her page with the script from the doctor telling her she was pregnant - with me! (I just went and read the description of the book - I had completely forgotten that it was more about gay love than track and field.)

May 17, 2008, 4:33pm Top

A used Q-tip......eeeewwwwwww!

May 21, 2008, 9:37pm Top

Not a strange bookmark, but something my library does that I find amusing: when we find something in a book we tape it to the wall of the bookdrop room. Two walls are now covered with bookmarks, stickers, school pictures, cards, school work, newspaper articles, and other things. Of course we don't stick up anything disgusting or anything that looks important. For example we once found a check from our patron to the electric company, and we called her to inform her about this.

Jun 12, 2008, 6:00am Top

I have found several strange things in books. There are two memorable Polaroid photos. One was a man in heavy makeup wearing some sort of Medusa themed hat that read, "Medusa upset" under it. The other was two naked people who did not look 18 from behind only exposing their backs with their arms around each other, it read, "Love". The strange thing is they were from two separate books, one was Saving Ophelia and the other was Go Ask Alice.

I also once found a plastic spork as a bookmark, as well as a cut length of eathernet cord. I also occasionally find rubber bands used in hard back books.

Jun 12, 2008, 4:13pm Top

#201 bitter_suite, I'd love to see a photo of that wall!

Jun 12, 2008, 4:39pm Top

Not in a library, but my fiance just left a note 'from' our cats in one of my books. The picture is in this blog post. I thought it was pretty cute.

Jun 12, 2008, 5:54pm Top

this is a wonderful thread!

Jun 12, 2008, 10:32pm Top

#203 - It's actually spread to two walls now. I'll try to remember to take a picture when I'm at work on Monday.

Jun 13, 2008, 12:40pm Top

In middle school you find pictures, pictures and more pictures of friends, family and pets. Occasionally, you find lunch money so you track the student down and return it.
You also find lots of notices, everything from fall pictures to the times for band practice.

Jun 17, 2008, 5:58pm Top

#204 - that note is just too funny!

Jun 17, 2008, 9:29pm Top

An airplane ticket and a dead cockroach

Jun 18, 2008, 12:43pm Top

On an obscure note, I coordinate a church library and one of the very old volumes donated to us had a Costmary leaf inserted in the book. For those that haven't heard this, the odor of this herb is pungent enough that stories used to be told of church goers using a fresh leaf of this under their nose to stay awake during particularly long boring sermons.

A little stranger -- once had a book returned with a folded piece of toilet tissue used as a book mark. Apparently their bathroom was indeed "the library".


Jun 18, 2008, 4:59pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 18, 2008, 11:21pm Top

>210 GHTC-KC:

I've used toilet paper as a bookmark in the past, as I'll often drag a book while on the toilet seat.

Jun 22, 2008, 1:11pm Top

> I have seen plenty of bugs in libraries but not actually in the books - thank goodness, ; however, I wouldn't mind finding a Scottish slater -the kind that works on roofs-in one of my library books!! - been single awhile....:) - Anyway, I am a high school librarian and one of my prolific readers insists on using a tiny, thin piece of thread as a bookmark !! Quirky! Guess that's better than some of the things I have been reading about!

Jun 23, 2008, 9:44am Top

I heard that my colleagues had found rent money (not a small sum) in an envelope.

Jun 23, 2008, 9:51am Top

$26, all in bills from the 1950s. (This was in a donated book; the donor evidently hadn't reread the book in decades.)

Jun 23, 2008, 6:01pm Top


I have a book in my bedroom with several hundred dollars in it. I call it my run away from home fund. My daughter knows which and where in case I drop dead from frustration over LT loading slowly.

Jun 29, 2008, 4:52am Top

My most recent find in a library book: a beer coaster.

Also, lotto tickets seem to be popular but of course they aren't winning lotto tickets (I still double check the numbers anyway, just in case!).

Jun 29, 2008, 5:34am Top

I personally used to use photographs as bookmarks. I forgot about one, and a patron brought the book containing my picture to the front desk. The picture was one of my mom! I was really embarrassed, but very thankful that the patron was kind enough to return it. :)

Jun 29, 2008, 4:35pm Top

#210: I've never used toilet paper, but I've certainly stuck unused tissues in my books! As bookmarks, they have the perks of being readily available and not important or special enough to worry about losing! Toilet paper is probably almost as useful. ;-)

At the used bookstore I used to work in, we kept a collection of neat or odd things found in the books. The owners had a friend who collected such things for art projects, etc. Lots of greeting cards, old receipts, recipes clipped from newspapers, doodles, ribbons, etc.

I think my absolute favorite was an ALA Read bookmark from the early 80s with Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggie on it! Piggie was shelving a book with one leg kicked back all sexy-like. They let me keep that one when they saw how entirely delighted with it I was!

Jun 29, 2008, 4:45pm Top

#216 I am ROTFL!

Jun 30, 2008, 9:56pm Top

I found a straight pin today in a copy of, appropriately, Random Harvest.

Jul 5, 2008, 10:27pm Top

Okay, here is a strange one. Going through some donated books today, and ran across a 40 year old book from Alcoholics Anonymous called The Eye Opener. In the book was a faded brown piece of newspaper that read: "Overhead at Schneithorst's: 'I'm not a big drinker, but I have a tapeworm that is a terrible lush.'" (Googled Schneithorst's and it is a German restaurant and bar in St. Louis, Missouri.) Interesting bookmark for an AA book.

Jan 8, 2009, 5:09pm Top

I'm resurrecting this thread to share a link to NY Times blog post "Librarian, There’s Some Bacon in My Book." They claim its not true, but from this thread it looks like it is.

Jan 10, 2009, 2:57pm Top

A squirrel's tail
pine needles
birch bark
Barnes and Noble gift card

Jan 11, 2009, 12:20pm Top

I work in a local government archives and one day had to open a relatively recent marriage book to look something up. As I balanced it on the shelf to open it, four pens slipped out of the spine. I checked the other books and, sure enough, there were more pens. Apparently when folks come in for a marriage license, the best way to not lose the pen is stick it in the spine!

We have also found old recipes slipped into minute books from the 19th century, political party membership dues reminders, and also receipts for payment of political party membership dues. Just a reminder of how different politics were a hundred years ago.

Incidentally, I have used the same old worn Garfield bookmark for about 25 years now. My wife sighs about it all the time.

Jan 23, 2009, 8:33pm Top

An envelope -- not too strange -- but it was from some American organization established for the investigation of UFOs. I work at Statistics Canada and generally our statisticians/methodologists are somewhat more pragmatic than that.

Jan 26, 2009, 12:13pm Top

Over the years i've found a condom (not in it's packet but un-used i hasten to add!), a piece of pie crust, a chocolate biscuit, chips(french fries) a dolls arm!! and several pics of some very strange (possibly illegal!!) subjects!

Who says working in a library is boring :)

Jan 31, 2009, 10:53am Top

A Social Security card.

Feb 4, 2009, 10:50am Top

In my elementary school library: a child's dirty sock; various hair rubber bands and barrettes, photographs; a McDonald's gift card, those folded "fortune teller" things kids make; notes to other students that I've just thrown away--turning them in to the teacher would probably get the get ISS or at least a stern talking to.

In the public library I used to work at we got lots of photos; a number of credit cards. Our library card was the exact color of Dillard's credit card--we used to laugh that it was lucky we were all so honest--we could have had a few shopping sprees had we been so inclined.

Feb 8, 2009, 4:06pm Top

best thing found in a book at our library: two hundred dollar bills
worst thing found: a cherry-flavored condom. still in the wrapper, thankfully

Feb 18, 2009, 2:03pm Top

I found a boarding pass from a flight that occured on Sept. 11, 2001.

I also found an unopened statement with Neiman-Marcus credit cards. (Expired)

A personal letter, a postcard of Mount Fuji with a note on the back, a couple of l
lottery tickets, and a phone bill from 1951 for 11.52.

Feb 18, 2009, 2:52pm Top

Since you got the book back it sounds as if they made it home from that flight safe and sound.

Feb 18, 2009, 3:17pm Top

Actually I talked to the guy later when he returned because I remembered his name on the boarding pass and asked him about it. He really knew nothing about what was happening at the time. Still it was bizarre to find it.

Feb 28, 2009, 1:55pm Top

Just the other day I found a threaded needle. The thread showed outside the book, and I pulled it assuming someone had just used a piece of thread. I was surprised to see a needle attached.

Mar 7, 2009, 9:15am Top

Last year we had a book returned containing a Valentines Day card. It wasn't just a case of to/from so and so either - someone had filled all the space they could (about three sides) with the reasons he sent the card to the lady and how much he loved her. We kept it until last week when we had a clear out and threw it away.

Perhaps her feelings for him were not quite as strong...?!

Mar 9, 2009, 10:31am Top

Postcards and pictures are often found being used as bookmarks and aren't really unusual.

But once I found lettuce. Another time I found a tomato slice. The piece of lettuce I can kind of understand, but the tomato made no sense at all.

Mar 9, 2009, 12:04pm Top

In books, I've found photos, letters, invitations, checks, receipts, bills, candy wrappers, handmade bookmarks (like one made out of duct tape), post-its, library cards, a two dollar bill, and homework.

Mar 9, 2009, 12:44pm Top

>236 imgoodinthestacks:

If you put that together with some of those bacon bookmarks, you'll have a BLT.

This wasn't really a bookmark, but once a lady dropped an overdue library book in our book return. Inside, she taped her credit card and a note saying to use it to pay her fines. (Her fine was all of $1.00, too)

Mar 17, 2009, 9:49pm Top

Someones life savings in an envelope

Mar 19, 2009, 7:22am Top

Used tissues, the crunchy type

A Swiss Army knife "card"

An article ripped out of a 1961 copy of the Reader's Digest

A dead, flat cockroach (I'm guessing this crawled in alive and met an early demise, rather than someone sticking a dead roach in there to mark their place... but you never know...)

Mar 21, 2009, 10:28am Top


Mar 28, 2009, 1:28pm Top

The imponderable that seems to have gone unremarked (maybe I missed it) is that the included items may have been intended to be found. Are librarians so unattractive of 'grudge' items? And certainly some of the things found would appear to have been targeted to likely readers of some books.

And perhaps an eccentric benefactor is responsible for the money left. Could it be that some people wish to make donations to some hard-working librarian or shelver?

Could this practice simply be a particularly abstruse sub-form of human communication?

Apr 5, 2009, 2:15pm Top

A folded note found inside a copy of Peter Ackroyd's Blake: A Biography had this cryptic note apparently to self by the reader (some of the handwriting I couldn't make out):

Exercise now
What is dripping?
Allergy shots
Other meds?
Bolivia -
Did you get __ ____ out?

I hope they remembered all this.

Apr 6, 2009, 10:56am Top

Wow -- You could be inspired to write a whole novel just based on that list. "What is dripping?" is particularly evocative.

Edited: Apr 8, 2009, 10:42am Top

I don't recall whether the word 'dripping' actually appears in Ackroyd's 'Blake', but it's worth a bet that it does, and that the listographer was simply puzzled by its use. 'Dripping' is the 'melted fat that drips from roasting meat' (OED), and as OED points out, this fat used to be in widespread (pun intended) use (certainly in Blake's day, and well into the twentieth century) on slices or bread, in place of butter. In poorer households, of course.

Apr 14, 2009, 12:11am Top

Oh, how logical. I was imagining the sort of drip one hears, but can't find, and which causes one to speculate on what damage may be occurring within the walls.

Apr 14, 2009, 2:04pm Top

my mother and grandmothers always used to keep a can of bacon "drippings" on the stove to season with. *Shudders* sounds terribly unsanitary now, but boy was their food yummy!

Apr 14, 2009, 2:31pm Top

My mother had a grease can, too -- I hadn't thought of that in years!

Edited: Apr 14, 2009, 8:36pm Top

thats terrible!!!
I keep mine in a jar in the fridge...


Apr 14, 2009, 8:33pm Top

I don't remember mom ever cooking with hers, though -- it was just there to collect the cooking grease.

Apr 14, 2009, 8:36pm Top

fried potatoes must be cooked in olive oil bacon grease!

Apr 15, 2009, 9:27am Top

I always throw away bacon grease now & only cook with vegetable and olive oil, and have for 25 years. A few weeks ago I made bacon and eggs, and went ahead and cooked the eggs in the bacon grease (just like Mom used to make!). My husband and I both pronounced them "icky". (His mom also used too cook with bacon grease)

Apr 15, 2009, 10:57am Top

The theory I believe, is that in order to cook with it it will get hot enough to kill anything that might be growing there. My Mom had a 1950s canister set and along with the ones labeled flour and sugar was one labeled grease.

Apr 15, 2009, 12:49pm Top

What would you do if you found $100 inside a book (from the library) as a bookmark? :-)

Apr 15, 2009, 3:08pm Top

Check to see how recently book had been returned. ~~I'm not sure how to define recent, but if it was recent, try to find who had returned it. If quite a longlong time ago. . . . In other words set parameters before deciding Finders-Keepers.

Today's San Jose Mercury News has an article headed "Library Book returned 145 years after soldier stole it during Civil War"!!! It is worth tracking down.

Apr 27, 2009, 6:41pm Top

I've found used band-aids, photographs, postcards, business cards and just last week - a four-leaf clover.

Dec 13, 2009, 1:04pm Top

I found a High Holy Days ticket to a shul in Tel Aviv circa 1936, before Israel was a country, written in German and Hebrew.

Dec 19, 2009, 9:05pm Top

Once, somebody's medical insurance card fell out of a book I was shelving. I tracked the person down via the name on the card and our library records, and called to let him know we had it. He was quite relieved.

Dec 20, 2009, 10:21am Top

After all these posts, I am surprised to learn that apparently I am the only one who has heard of (I didn't find it, thank goodness) a slice of pizza -- apparently the thin kind! -- used as a bookmark. It was quite dessicated, according to the teller of the tale, and only greased the paper a bit!

Mar 19, 2010, 2:51pm Top

One of the circ clerks found a maxi pad in a book today. Still in it's package (thank god). She was checking the book out to a (male) patron when she discovered it. Apparently she got it out of the book and in the trash can without him noticing.

Edited: Mar 22, 2010, 1:34pm Top

-An unused napkin, folded along the diagonal
-An entry form for a contest in South Dakota (I live nowhere near South Dakota)
-A paycheck! We called the patron and he rushed back to get it. :)
-A second-place ribbon from a ballroom dancing competition. (Sadly, the person never came back and got this one. Maybe they were upset at not getting first...?)

Mar 22, 2010, 1:53pm Top

I recently found an old porter's receipt from Osaka Hotel (Japan) in a book on Singapore Math that we bought online.

Mar 22, 2010, 3:43pm Top

I found a used Q-tip in a donated book. There were some unused ones as well, but those didn't bother me like the used one did!

Apr 1, 2010, 11:04am Top

Two $50.00 bills (we got to keep them)

Apr 22, 2010, 7:51pm Top

I had to return a library book I wasn't finished reading. I left my bookmark in it and then checked it out again. The bookmark was there so I got to finish the book.

Jan 10, 2013, 4:48pm Top

I love this post! Any updates/more weird bookmarks?

Jan 10, 2013, 6:03pm Top

Besides a booklet of exotic poststamps, postcards, newspaper clippings (some of them from the 19th century), several books of matches, xeroxed construction plans and shopping lists the most unusual finding was a sachet containing marihuana and small pieces of blotting paper which, judging from the printed symbols on it, were apparently laced with LSD.

Jan 11, 2013, 9:42pm Top

I found a slice of cheese in a book on our shelves last year.

Jan 12, 2013, 2:24am Top


Edited: Jan 12, 2013, 3:20am Top

Hola, visiting my sister in Houston, Tx, I found that she was into romantic novels so I decide just to grab one randomly and for bookmark she was using a "sex offender advisory postcard", when I saw the name of the person with his address( which was 6 blocks from my sisters house) I said to my sister "you better visit us more often". What can I say, I have a twisted sister.

Mar 14, 2013, 1:09am Top

This list is so much fun. I've started collected paper bookmarks I've found, but my most ridiculous find was a sleep mask and pair of ear plugs -- both used -- like those given away on air planes. Thank god it wasn't me, but a coworker of mine also opened an audiobook and about twenty young cockroaches poured out. I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHERE PEOPLE KEEP OUR MATERIALS!

Mar 30, 2013, 7:24pm Top

Few months ago, found a wedding ring in a book. Managed to reunite it with one incredibly grateful borrower.

Mar 30, 2013, 8:46pm Top


Mar 31, 2013, 2:55pm Top

I've done that with photos and student IDs but never with a wedding ring. Cool!

Mar 31, 2013, 4:33pm Top

I found someone's military discharge papers once.

May 14, 2013, 12:06am Top

I start as a Library Technical Assistant on Monday. I sincerely hope I don't see much of what was listed here in our books. While at University, I found several campus maps and cut up parts of beer 6 pack holders while browsing the stacks. I did find a funeral card in a seldom checked out military book. The person died in 1936. The book was last checked out in 1992. And I've found my own forgotten bookmarks, too.

May 15, 2013, 9:22am Top

In the public library where I work I once found a used needlestick inside a book . Probably not as a bookmark though - more likely to hide it.

This topic was continued by Strange bookmarks - continued.

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