Found In A Library Book

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By: Meredith Witthar | Haddie Djemalget Posted: 6:31 PM, Sep 21, 2022 Updated: 9:02 AM, Sep 22, 2022

Have you ever used a picture or maybe a to-do list as a bookmark in a library book, and then forgotten about it when you returned the book? Well, you’re not alone — and Oakland librarian Sharon McKellar has been compiling all those forgotten bookmarks along with other stuff she’s found in the library and posting them online in a collection called “Found In A Library Book,” which is now also on display in person. She told us about some of the things she found, and what she’s learned from the experience over the years.

What she’s found…

A lot of Sharon’s noteworthy finds are artwork and drawings, and notes and letters —many of the things people have written for someone else. She also has a broad category called artifacts, for miscellaneous — often very surprising — items. Among her favorite drawings is one called “Dad & CJ,” of a large figure with devil horns and a devil’s tale and a pitchfork labeled dad, and a little stick figure with a big frowning face labeled CJ.

She loves the glimpses into random lives…

She once found a postcard where the message was that the sender had sent 30 cards or letters and hadn’t received a response and that this was going to be their last one. Sharon says imagining the real story behind it is very emotional.

Then there are some that are just random…

A recent addition to the collection: a bookmark that was just a single square of toilet paper.

Her favorite part?

Sharon says one of the best parts of starting this project is getting to reunite people with lost memories- like the lost photo, someone spotted after it was posted. It was a Polaroid, meaning it was one of a kind, and the woman who claimed it hadn’t seen it since she was a child. To top it off, many of the childhood photos from the woman’s family had been lost in various moves. The woman now loves having the photo to show her child.

Sense of community…

Sharon’s biggest wish —people will get a sense of community and kind of humanity from seeing the collection because even though the items weren’t intended to be seen by other people, they make you realize we all have things in common. And that makes you kinder toward and more tolerant of everyone.

Mysteries are everywhere — and keep it interesting…

Sharon says you never know — a stick of gum could be really quite significant to someone and they put it in that book to keep it safe. Because the placement is a mystery, it makes you see all things a bit differently.

We can only guess at the true meanings of “Things Left In A Library Books.”