I volunteer weekly at my local Friends for the Library. We price and sort donated books for our monthly used book sales (at which I also run a cash register), and we have a lovely used book shop in the Main library downtown which is open six days a week. We raise around $200K every year for library programs such as the Summer Reading Program for children.
My specific job is to research old – I mean, vintage – children’s books to see if they might be worth “real money”. If so, we might sell them online. If not, I stick a bargain price tag on them. I get to work with children’s books because I enjoy them so much. I collect Newbery Medal award-winning books and get first dibs on the ones that cross my desk. Other volunteers get to work with whatever interests them – art books, mysteries, music CDs, etc.
This week Melissa, our director, was going through the box of things we find in books. We have around 50 volunteers altogether, and when one of us finds something interesting we put it in the box. Keep in mind that these books are all donated to us. They could be from someone simply decluttering their bookshelves or downsizing to move, to someone’s entire library being donated because they died and their family doesn’t know what else to do with it. I don’t know how often people check their own books, or those of a loved one, before donating, but clearly not often enough to catch everything.
Here is a sampling of items we’ve found in books:
- Gift cards
- Greeting cards (I like the old-fashioned Valentines)
- Bookmarks, of course, of all varieties
- Old photos (including naked ones)
- Money (my aunt found $40 just last week)
- Receipts (some more interesting than others)
- Birth certificates from the 1890’s
- Articles about the book or author
- Pressed leaves of various types
- Dog show ribbon
- 1960 Korean wedding invitation
- Little kid’s handwritten Christmas wish list
It’s the photos that get to me, I wish there were a way of returning them to their families who may or may not even be missing them.
Although it’s highly entertaining for us to find your memorabilia stuck in the pages of your donated books, I submit that it’s not the best way to preserve your personal memories. Just sayin’!
What do you use as a bookmark?
What do you hide in books? Do you remember what and where later?
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found in a book?
Do you check your books before donating them?
Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.