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Weird and Wonderful Bookmarks Found in Libraries Around the World

Growing up, it was mesmerising to read about the fantastical world that awaited Alice on her escapades in Wonderland, as she discovered weird and wonderful things, strange and interesting people, beyond her (and our) wildest imagination.

Memories of Alice’s quests inspired our imaginations well into our adult years and it wasn’t until recently, when we stepped into our local library and scanned the walls of shelves that it clicked: we had grown up to be Alice, with our very own version of Wonderland – the library.

Standing in an enchanted paradise, it is all too easy to get lost in the charm of the books around us. but have you ever wondered what other treasures are to be discovered, beyond the adventure of the words upon the pages? In addition to the thousands of stories from the talented storytellers, bibliophiles the world over have been known to leave more than their hearts on the shelf, tagging their literary visits with the mark of a unique bookmark for librarians, and in some cases, fellow booklovers to find.

With the intention to delight, librarians from all over the world have shared stories of the many different items they’ve found in books. We share some of our favourites with you now, some that amused, and some that left us a little confused, and here is what we learnt along the way:

1. Readers Make Time to Play

We’d like to think a group of fun-loving students who, in their haste to mark the most important pages, opted to use what was nearest. And as luck would have it, in some librarians’ experiences, what was nearest seems to have been a variety of cards (for gambling and gaming), including Pokémon collectables, playing cards, and even a single domino.

2. Love is a Universal Language

Of all languages inscribed in books, librarians speak most fondly of love, often listing the discovery of items of sentimental value hidden amongst the pages of books, including children’s artwork, notes speaking of brighter futures, and goofy couples’ photos from a photobooth. We unashamedly admit to fighting back tears as we read numerous accounts of the love letters librarians had found, tearstained by sweethearts separated by distance; despaired children detailing their life to parents deceased; the Romeo and Juliet forbidden to be; and hopeful admirers seeking their one true love. With romance novels long being a popular choice for booklovers, and these meaningful secret bookmarks, we’re reminded once again that love truly is the language of humankind.

3. Sometimes Grooming Happens on the Go

As booklovers, we often (in an attempt to spare any available minute to read) try to do things on-the-go. But what we didn’t expect was that grooming items have doubled as markers in books returned to libraries! Librarians in various countries have reported fake eyelashes, toilet paper (luckily unused), padded bra-cups and sanitary towels, as some of the personal care particulars they’ve found stashed in books over the years. And we’ll be honest, we’re not too sure what to feel about it.

4. Books Preserve History Best

If the recording of historical events in literary form isn’t enough, readers have been known to add their own bits of history to a book from time to time. Librarians have found historical items such as vintage business cards predating the Internet; money dating back to the second World War; a letter to an employer signed by the 19th Century Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle of the Royal Navy confirming his position on the ship; and in one local library in Pennsylvania, a newspaper clipping from an 1890 circular about a local sheriff responsible for the escape of a murderer.

5. Hunger Can Strike at the Most Inconvenient Time

The most delicious discoveries yet! A book that’s so good you can’t put it down will see you reading in every room in the house - and the kitchen is no exception. Wrapped slices of ham and cheese, strips of bacon (regrettably, both the cooked and uncooked variants), a large amount of cookie crumbs, cereal, and even a squashed pickle, have all made the list of weird and wonderful bookmarks found by librarians – which makes us hope that the next time hunger strikes, these readers find alternative, inedible bookmarks to better preserve the book’s pages!

6. Booklovers Will Read - Whatever the Odds

Part of the delight of a book can be found in its portability. And judging from the finds of librarians, this holds true, as readers invariably read anywhere and at any cost – in the possession of a bookmark or not. Some of the strangest alternative bookmarks listed by librarians include floppy disks, an actual bookworm (we actually chuckled at this), crisp banknotes, flowers, a pair of glasses, a tin can lid, pocket blades and knives, many locks of hair, and (disturbingly) a finger found by a librarian in Italy – at which we’re left wondering if this was the reader’s way of giving the book a literal ‘thumbs up!’.

The possibilities of weird and wonderful finds in a reader’s Wonderland are endless, and for all our Absolem’s, and booklovers, who discover fascinating things hidden in books, we remind you of Alice’s words, “sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast”.

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