Slices of bologna discovered inside a book returned to the Denver Public Library. (Courtesy Denver Public Library)
When Walt Disney said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island,” he likely wasn’t envisioning bologna slices stuffed between pages.
But Denver librarians count the meat product among the trove of items found inside returned library books and collected by staff.
Madison Hosack, a librarian at Denver Public Library’s Central Library, is tasked with evaluating collections, meaning Hosack and her colleagues go through the stacks to check books’ conditions.
During that process, she and her coworkers began collecting the items — odd, funny, sweet or perishable — that they come across while flipping through the pages.
“It’s such a range of stuff that you’ll find,” Hosack said. “Bookmarks from all over the world, to-do lists, little doodles or drawings.
An illustrated story entitled “The Lousy Ketchup Bottle.” Marijuana leaves. An origami bird. A Pokémon card. A Cinemark ticket stub to “Little Women.” A bookmark from Stardust Book Emporium in Savannah, Georgia. The aforementioned lunch meat.
A playing card with the words “10:40 p.m. come alone” written on it was left inside a book returned to the Denver Public Library. (Courtesy Denver Public Library)
As Hosack and other library staff stumbled across the keepsakes, she started assembling bulletin boards showcasing their best finds and then compiled blog posts with pictures of the lost-and-found treasures.
“It’s just this small object, but it has a story behind it, and it’s cool because it’s like the story of someone who had that book before you, so it’s this point of connection,” she said. “I was trying to brainstorm ways to share that with other people.”
While Hosack and the staff love finding what lies within the spines of their collections, Hosack stressed that people should be careful they’re not leaving sensitive personal information inside the books that could be taken advantage of.
Hosack has a couple of favorite finds.
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One, a to-do list written by a child, Abi, intended for her mother. One of the items to be checked off was “give Abi a hug.”
Another, a playing card — a two of spades — with the phrase “10:40 p.m. come alone” written on it.
“I think it spreads joy, but when you find an object like that, it sparks curiosity — but it also feels really special, and when you look at them on a bulletin board or in a collection, you get an idea of the range and complexity of the people who make up the Denver community, but in a really simple, everyday, humanizing kind of way.”