I have always held a fascination with bookmarks. It probably all started with the return of a dog-eared library book and the librarian of the day (you know the one with her glasses on a string and perched on the tip of her nose?) politely suggesting that the next time I use a bookmark. It must have left a permanent scar on my psyche. In fact, to this day, I usually carry a few with me and really have to restrain myself from handing them out to total strangers who are reading their books without one.
Something has always held me back from writing about my fascination but the other day as I was unpacking interlibrary loans I came across the bookmark pièce de résistance: a perfect square of toilet paper. Yes, you read that right. Toilet paper! I love finding bookmarks in returned library books and it got me thinking about what a reader’s appeal factors might be based on their bookmark of choice.
In the Readers’ Advisory Conversation, the third of the Readers’ Advisory Core Competencies, we discuss Nancy Pearl’s appeal doorways and Joyce Saricks’ vocabulary of appeal. Here, I am going to do some heavy speculation as to what a reader’s appeal doorway might be based upon their bookmark.
Based on the message on this bookmark, the reader does not want their enjoyment disturbed and would likely be driven by a well-paced, plot-based book. The appeal of story would be of vital importance to this reader. They may want a page turner so they can get on with the other things that need to be accomplished in a day or maybe they just want to move on to their next action packed read.
If you ever come across a family photo in a book that was used as a bookmark, then perhaps that reader was driven by character in choosing what they would like to read. They may look to familiar and faithful characters or, based on the bookmark shown here, quirky characters might be their cup of tea.
This bookmark was an old ticket from La Scala. I would assume this reader loves the adventure of travel. Setting would be of the utmost importance to them, whether it be through their own experiences or in their imagination.
If a reader is really drawn into books by language or prose, they may leave behind bookmarks marketing writers’ festivals, local bookstores or authors. It might also have a poem or a verse on it. The style of the writing might be a key factor for this reader. Perhaps they like a concise and sophisticated read or maybe they prefer a homespun conversational read.
So the next time you come across a forgotten bookmark, sit back and wonder what the reader’s appeal doorway might be. As for the toilet paper, I think I will leave that one up to everyone’s imagination.
Julie Wendland is the Readers’ Services Coordinator at the County of Lennox & Addington Public Libraries and a member of the OPLA Readers Advisory Committee.