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Found in a Library Book

A pile of old concert tickets

Old concert tickets, love letters, family photographs, grocery receipts...readers tuck these little items inside books for safe keeping or use them as bookmarks. Sometimes, they are left inside as the book continues its journey to a new reader.

The Oakland Public Library in Northern California has launched a new project called Found in a Library Book, to share the items that they have found in their library books. The idea has a dual purpose. The first is to potentially find the owner of the lost item. The second is to share the unclaimed items and spark curiosity, as a type of art installation.

When I read about the Oakland Library project in the May/June issue of Writer's Digest Magazine, I immediately thought of a similar concept that started decades earlier with Davy Rothbart's Found Magazine. Rothbart took contributions of found items ( mostly things to do with writing, but not exclusively) and created an art magazine. He also traveled around the country with live shows, where he share some of these objects.

I was a fan of Rothbart's Found Magazine and attended several live shows. During the shows, I struck by how the room would have a collective, often emotional response to a snippet of writing that we experienced without context. We allowed our minds to fill in the story. This unique communial experience blended theatre, written word, and art. I absolutely loved it, particularly for the magic of letting go and allowing my imagination to travel to unexpected places via the lost items of a stranger.

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