You’re reading a book from the library. It is good. You are having a good time, but something unexpected comes up. You need to hold your place and being a responsible patron you know that you can’t just break the book’s spine and hold your location by splaying it across the back of a chair. So you grab the nearest bookmark at hand. Time passes. You don’t go back to the book, and you’ve also forgotten the bookmark. You return the book to the library where we find it and, in some cases, stare in bafflement at what you put in there.

Today, we are celebrating unexpected bookmarks. Now I’m not a member of the circulation staff, so I had to get their help in identifying some of the stranger donations. Here’s a quickie recap of the Evanstonian bookmarks of 2016:

Without a doubt the MOST common bookmark at EPL is the Ventra card.  Small. Convenient. Easy to forget.

This is my favorite find. An old punch library card. According to members of our staff, each book would have one of these (you can see that it was for a book called LAKE CHAMPLAIN by Van De Wa(something) and that it had a call # of 974.7. Before computers as we know it, the librarians would just punch out the books. Technology at its finest.

Children of the 80s unite. As a child I was forbidden from owning any Garbage Pail Kids cards (a gross reactionary alternative to the Cabbage Patch Kids). Did you know that Art Spiegelman did quite a few of them early in his career? True story. In any case, this little guy ended up in one of our books.

Well you would hardly expect another city’s team to be used to hold someone’s place, would you?

This appears to be less a bookmark and more a crie de coeur. At least they didn’t write this in the book itself. That would be just a bit more irony than I could handle.

Well, it’s not like any of us have kept track of all our eighth place ribbons, after all.

Any idea what this is? Aside from the fact that I can’t figure out how you’d go about making a coin even work as a bookmark (don’t they just sorta roll out?)

I’m not sure what this actually is.

Awwww. If every single patron used a hand-drawn image from Bob’s Burgers as a bookmark, what a wonderful world this would be.

And finally, the #1 most common bookmark found in returned library books is . . . . .COMMON TISSUE PAPER!!

Thanks for playing, everybody. And remember to check those books before you take them back.

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library. She has been writing for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.