People often leave their bookmarks, receipts, love letters and notes in books and they all have stories to share.
Libraries are wonderful places for people who love silence, warmth and books. They often become a way to form beautiful connections with others who share the love of reading too. There is one element of borrowing books from the library that doesn't come with store-bought books. It is the beautiful notes, bookmarks and personal items that people leave behind deliberately or forgetfully while returning a book. In order to provide an intriguing window into the lives of the people in her town, library director Sharon McKellar has been documenting all of the knickknacks left behind in books at the Oakland Public Library for almost ten years. These relics, which range from sketches to sentimental postcards, show how individuals engaged with the library and its books, reports My Modern Met.
Found in a Library Book is the name of the endeavor. In 2013, when McKellar's position included managing the Oakland Public Library's website, she was motivated to start blogging about the tiny collection of objects she and other staff members discovered in books. The collection quickly took off, adding more and more intriguing elements along the way. McKellar said: "The project moved from being an occasional shared blog post to really just being a collection of scanned items on my computer and/or in my office until we moved to a new website that allowed the opportunity to showcase the found items as more of an archive or collection."
"Some staff members have continually sent me their finds over the years, even when I wasn't doing anything official with them, but now that they are showcased on our website and social media and getting so much attention, the staff is sending me so much more. It's great," she added.
The majority of items in the collection are not ones McKellar herself finds; instead, the initiative gathers them from all of Oakland's library sites. She said: "My roles in the library for the past 10 years have had me mostly in an office behind a computer screen, so this is a really fun way for me to remain connected to the branches, staff and community."
McKellar added that her favorite find keeps changing constantly as they expand their archive. She explained: "This amazing one was found, relatively recently, in a very old scrapbook in our incredible Oakland History Center and it's brilliant and so cool. [It's] an advertisement for a horse for sale with a hand-drawn horse."
McKellar and other library staff members frequently come across hilarious items, notably notes and doodles made by children. They do, however, also come across passionate messages and postcards, such as "this is then and this is now," which indicates that the sender made over 30 attempts to contact the receiver.
The initiative has created several categories to classify all these items, ranging from "Cards and Letters," "Art" and "Bookmarks" to even "Photos" and written notes in the book. These little notes range from "estimated cash flow" to love letters. The entire archive is specific, wonderful and an important piece of the history of Oakland.