I was at the library this week, dropping off books into the return slot, when I noticed that I was returning more than library books.  When I’d reached into my backpack to grab a book, I’d also picked up something else that was sitting at the bottom of my backpack.  The book was at the end of my fingertips, beginning its journey down the chute, when I saw a glimpse of white out of the corner of my eye. 

“That kind of looks like a tampon,” I thought.

It was a tampon.

Frantically, I dropped my backpack and dove towards the book deposit slot, freeing both hands to retrieve the book and the white piece of cotton that was attached to it by a small piece of string. 

The five-year-old boy standing at the return slot to my right, looked at me like I was a crazy woman (which wasn’t far from the truth).  I desperately hoped he wouldn’t tug on his mother’s shirt sleeves and ask what that silly lady was sticking in the book deposit slot.

I managed to grab the tampon by the string just as the book finished its slide into the heap of returns at the bottom of the chute.  I quickly closed my fist around the object, furtively glancing around, hoping that nobody, aside from the little boy, noticed that anything was amiss.

Normally, I don’t think returning a tampon with a library book would be too big of a problem.  I’d probably give a reference librarian a good chuckle and a funny story to bring home to her husband that evening.  That would be about it.

But my library likes to create an annual display of the bookmarks that people accidentally return with books.  I could just imagine my tampon hanging behind glass in the display case along with children’s drawings of their dogs, take out menus, and ticket stubs. 

Last month, I’d gazed at the display for a long time, admiring all the things people use to mark their place in a book.  Some people obviously grabbed the closest thing at hand, sometimes pieces of toilet paper or junk mail.  Others were more thoughtful about their bookmarks, and they’d use bumper stickers with funny phrases or notes from loved ones.  Some people lost elaborate art work when they accidentally returned their bookmark to the library. 

I liked the pictures that people chose as bookmarks, typically of friends or children, things that you’d want to keep near you.  Instead of shoving them in a frame, these people actively touched the photos each day and gave them a purpose in life. 

I’ve included pictures of some of my favorite bookmarks, given to me by friends over the years. When I use them, I think about the person who gave them to me.  Often, they say things that are meaningful or that make me laugh. 

To me, bookmarks serve as a sort of Ebenezer, which in the Bible, is a type of marker that reminds a person of something God has done for them (2 Samuel 7:12).  Bookmarks don’t just remind me about my place in a book, they also remind me about my life, my friends, and my God.

I’d love to know what you use for bookmarks, if you have any special ones that you like best.  Why not post them on your own blog and respond with a link, so we all can see them?


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Cute collection!
    Blogs about what has been found in library book drops abound amongst librarians. You wouldn’t believe what items have been found. There are a lot of libraries who got their library cat because a kitten was dropped in the box.

    I have some lovely lace book marks and leather book marks and jeweled metal wands…and of course generally wind up just using a clean fresh kleenex instead.

  2. I laughed out loud at this one, Amy!

    In my Bible, I have as a bookmark a little note my mom wrote to me when I was just a kid, along with the little card from the hospital nursery when I was born. My other favorite bookmark is made of cherry wood, with an iris design carved in one end – a gift from my husband a few years ago.

  3. I’m sooo boring with what I put in my books.
    Usually a post-it note. That way if I take a break mid-chapter or mid-page, I can mark exactly where I am.
    Sometimes, it is just a napkin.

    Another confession — I haven’t been to the library in YEARS! I like to mark up the books I read, so even borrowing them from friends is difficult.

    I do like borrowing them from my friend DeAnn, though. She loves books as much as I do; so, it sorta feels like a friend is trusting you with a precious gem.

    Two summers ago, she gave me a stack of biographies to read. One was one of her favorites: Through the Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot. I took it to Myrtle Beach with me.

    I had it with me on the beach. I am in the habit of taking long walks to pray and reflect on what I am reading at least once or twice each day on vacation. So, as usualy, I decided to take a walk, at least 1.5 miles down the beach. I had found a cute spot to have lunch a few days prior; so, I trekked there. Oblivious to my surroundings, I enjoyed a nice lunch. As I was paying for my meal, I realized the sky had grown very dark. I began to run down the beach as I was being pelted by rain and slapped with sand particles being stirred up by the wind. Lightning and thunder ensued. And I realized I needed to take shelter as best as I could. I had to admit defeat. There was no way I would make it back to my bag in time (which had my travel Bible, journal, and DeAnn’s favorite book). I hid under an umbrella, praying not for my safety, but that the books wouldn’t get ruined.

    The moment the thunder and lightning passed, I resumed running down the beach. Journal = water logged. Bible = soggy. Through the Gates of Splendor = (in the words of DeAnn) looked like it had been in the River Couray with Jim Elliot and the other maryters.

    DeAnn didn’t want me to replace the book. The book lover she is – likes the story of how it came to be. So, it is now a joke between us.

    Oh, and she used toilet paper as a bookmark in that book. Why? Because (once again in her words), “Where do you think I usually read it?”

  4. I love the idea of bookmarks as an Ebenezer – if only I could hang on to mine! I suppose books are a sort of Ebenezer too, reminding me of the stage of life I was in when I first read it, or reminders of the person who recommended it. Thanks for the good thought Amy!

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