Librarians and teachers devise many creative activities and incentives to encourage reading among school children—contests and prizes, charts of progress and gold stars, puppet shows, plays and parties all to make reading fun and interesting. Of course, bookmarks play a role as small prizes and mini-teachers of book etiquette. They may possess more power than we thought, as we learn from Jeffrey Edel, a semi-retired woodworker (and voracious reader).
He lives in Bryson City, North Carolina, USA, a small but beautiful town, which as he notes is “tucked up against the Tennessee border amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains.” He used to live in Jacksonville, Florida where he met his friend Karen, an elementary school librarian. She dresses up as the Book Fairy and has had success in getting young children inspired to read by using the bookmarks he makes - her magic wands! Jeffrey says she is “astoundingly creative” and also works with the Scholastic Book Fair program.
More durable for children than paper, the bookmarks Jeffrey makes are from all types of salvaged wood including oak, poplar, black walnut, cherry or whatever he has saved from his years as a woodworker. He adds bits of broken jewelry, coins, watch fobs, jewelry pieces or whatever might make them interesting and ornamental. When asked if he makes them for sale, he said, “They are meant to be encouraging gifts and if someone wanted one I would try to accommodate them if possible.”
Jeffrey would like to hear from our members — “who better than the experts” — on ideas and feedback for improving his designs. He would also like to know of other initiatives to inspire children to read using bookmarks. Please respond by making a comment below or to the webmaster and we will be sure they get to Jeffrey.
And the next time you use a bookmark, think about its magic powers!
This post begins a new feature to profile IFOB members. We learn more about Debrah who was last year's runner up for the Woboda raffle. Thank you, Debrah for sharing your bookmark stories. If you would like to be "interviewed" for a profile, please contact the IFOB editor. We are interested in all of our members!
Tell us about yourself – where you are from, your occupation, etc.
I was born in 1955 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and from the age of 7 lived and revelled in Sydney's Northern Beaches, living mainly in beachside Warriewood, until age 19 when I departed for my first adventure overseas to the UK, Europe and the Middle East, including living and working for 6 months on a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. My subsequent overseas travel has been overland through many countries of Asia, two subsequent trips to India, and most recently, two trips to the west coast of the USA, both inspired by SoulCollage® of which I am a Trained Facilitator. I have also travelled extensively in my homeland of Australia and I have lived in four Australian states (New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia) and the Australian Capital Territory, for varying periods of time. I currently live in the beautiful Camden Haven area on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.
I have an undergraduate honours degree in Information Science (B. App. Sci. Info.) from the University of Technology, Sydney (1990) followed by a 17-year management career in information services and libraries, in both the private and public sectors.
Sixteen years ago, after intensive training and practice I became an accredited Yoga Teacher and taught yoga for many years, sometimes solely and sometimes while also working another job.
I am now retired from full-time mainstream work and yoga teaching, but I continue to facilitate SoulCollage from time-to-time through SoulLight Collage and spend, my now more available time, on my various hobbies and projects, including family history.
How did you start collecting bookmarks? Do you remember your first bookmark?
I have been a keen collector of bookmarks from about the 1970s - at first serendipitously or by accident, and then more intentionally! One day I simply realised I had amassed numerous bookmarks, especially ones from bookstores, art galleries and museums and that I wanted to treat them with the respect they deserved! So, I started to focus more on them and to better manage and preserve them. I then started to intentionally look out for and collect bookmarks to add to my collection. I also started to research bookmark collecting and the history of bookmarks. This led me to some wonderful websites, especially the Mirage Bookmark website and its links and ultimately to connections with bookmark collectors all over the world.
Do you have any favorite types or special emphasis in your collection?
I enjoy collecting all bookmark genres, but my favourite genre is bookshop (bookstore) bookmarks, that is, bookmarks promoting bookshops, the ones they give you for free with your purchase(s) or even for just being a browser in their shop. I also enjoy collecting Book Depository (the online bookseller) bookmarks and have managed to complete a couple of sets and almost complete others. I also love bookmarks from libraries, art galleries and museums. In regard to format, I prefer collecting paper/cardboard bookmarks, but I do have some plastic, metal, wooden, leather and cloth bookmarks in my collection.
Here are a few of my most favourite bookshop bookmarks from my collection:
How do you acquire your bookmarks?
The bookmarks in my collection are (1) ones I have freely and personally gathered from bookshops, libraries, museums and other places and events in Australia and overseas; (2) ones I have discovered left in some of the used books I have purchased; (3) ones I have found left abandoned in libraries and library books I have borrowed; (4) ones I have chanced upon in a variety of weird, wacky and wonderful places; (5) commercial ones that I have purchased from bookshops and elsewhere; and (6) ones I have received through swaps with other bookmark collectors around the world. More recently, some of my bookmarks have been gifted to me from family and friends here in Australia and overseas. Certainly, I find that many of my bookmarks, especially those I have personally collected, are enduring and treasured mementos of favourite bookshops, books, places, people and events in my life. My other bookmarks, the ones that have been donated to me or swapped with me, have been sources of learning as they have initiated my research into where they are from or what they are about. (Yes, I am a bit of an information / research junkie)!
What has been your experience in using the IFOB Swap List?
Totally positive! It is a wonderful service! I have thoroughly enjoyed swapping bookmarks with fellow collectors from all over the world. I also get contacted by people for swaps via my Mark My Place website, but it is also great to be listed on the IFOB Swap List.
What do you enjoy about IFOB? Anything you would like to see IFOB do in the future?
I enjoy everything about it! The community of collectors, the information on the website and its links to more information, the articles, the Swap List, the aim to increase public awareness of bookmarks, and World Bookmark Day! IFOB is already doing a lot of great things and I hope it continues to exist into the future.
Do you have any plans to celebrate World Bookmark Day next time?
Most definitely! I will be participating in the events offered by IFOB, including the bookmark raffle. I also plan on mounting a Bookmark Collecting / World Bookmark Day display at my local public library and giving a free public talk on bookmark collecting at the same venue. It is a large and busy public library and I am sure it will generate some interest. I will be talking with the library manager and am hopeful of gaining her support and permission for this to go ahead.
Do you collect anything else?
I have been an avid reader since childhood and an enthusiastic book collector since my early teens. Collecting books and bookmarks goes hand-in-hand really! Now I have thousands of both! In addition, I collect other book ephemera such as bookshop business cards and postcards. I am also interested in bookplates and bookends, but I only collect those virtually on Pinterest!
Outside of book, bookmarks and other book related items, I collect postage stamps on women that fit with my project theme of “ I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR! Women’s Suffrage, Women’s Rights, Equality and Liberation: A Postal Herstory to 2015”. This is a huge project which I have been doing since the mid 1980s and am hoping to bring to culmination in the next couple of years. My plan is to eventually donate the several large stamp albums to a relevant women’s organisation and to share the whole project with the world via a website which I will create.
Anything else you would like to share?
To me, bookmarks, in addition to their function of marking the place one is up to in a book, are small works of art and beauty or whimsy and many of them share inspirational, important and educational messages in a compact, effective and meaningful way. Part of me loves, enjoys and relishes this hobby of bookmark collecting and part of me thinks it is dorky, nerdy and a bit of a waste of time! The first part wins out though, by far! Like all people who have the collection bug, whatever it is they may collect, there is no point trying to rationalise, explain or justify it. I have decided to just enjoy it and to share some (but not all) of my bookmarks with interested people via my Mark My Place website and blog.
I also collect (pin) bookmarks of all kinds on Pinterest. As of August 2018, I have almost 16,000 bookmarks, of all kinds, pinned on my board and nearly 3,000 followers, many of whom have re-pinned my pins. There are clearly lots of bookmark fans out there!
Finally, I can’t end this profile without sharing the front and back images of two favourite Aussie (Australian) publisher bookmarks from my collection.
Currently I have 135 in my cataloged collection (maybe more waiting in the wings of uncataloged boxes). I have found them in almost every category, so what follows are some examples showing their variety and clues for finding them.
Bookstores, of course, are good sources because they often use books on their namesake bookmarks. From De Heksenkelder Internationale Feministiese Boekhandel, there are two--one on the side for the bookstore, a miniature image of the bookmark itself, and the other featuring a different book alongside a glass of wine, for De Heksenketel Café. Antiquariaat Tweedehandsboekhandel also has a bookmark on each side, in this case of the same image of a medieval scholar gazing at his open book with a subtle bookmark. Scenes of people reading are good candidates for finding companion bookmarks.
Sometimes a cozy scene, even without a reader, can reveal a bookmark. Here are two similar scenes of a fireplace, a comfy chair, a companion to keep company (cat and dog), and groups of books, one open, the other closed with visible bookmarks. These “cosy nook” themes were popular in the 1920s-1940s.
So too were those with greetings about remembrance and friendship like this one with a blue bookmark sporting a medallion at the end. Themes of friendship based on a shared appreciation of books and reading often have books with bookmarks, similar to this one with an unusual teal marble-like background.
Besides bookstores, businesses seem less likely to use images of books, favoring instead their own products or pretty ladies. An unexpected example is from Gold Medal Flour with bookshelf, candles, open book and red bookmark. Perhaps this is a category for a challenge to find more examples.
There are plenty of other bookmark producers that regularly feature books, however. Religious publishers often depict the Bible and indeed bookmarks are popular gifts and giveaways for bible readers. This example features another cozy nook for bible study along with suggestions on passages by topic. An unexpected, rather mysterious bookmark was revealed in this metal bookmark with holographic images of praying hands, reversing to a book with bookmark.
Any number of organizations might use books, but for an especially nice example, we can look to The Bookmark Society. They produce a custom bookmark each year for members; this one for their 25th anniversary features a prominent bookmark on an illustrated book with a lovely background.
Of course, libraries use illustrations of books and they often produce instructional bookmarks to encourage their use, as in this examples from the National Library of Australia which has a subtle and humorous message. The University of California, San Diego also uses humor as well as a quiz to promote the benefits of using a bookmark, printed as noted on acid-free paper, another bonus. This charming green leather gift bookmark simply says “Don’t take me out” and its recipient seemed to heed that advice as indicated by the darkened and tattered ends with the middle in pristine condition from remaining in the book.
The bonanza bookmarks on bookmarks in my collection were created by Domenec Martinez and Col.leccio Costa in 2008 documenting the history of bookmarks. Almost every one of the series of twelve has an illustration of a bookmark from different time periods. The examples here feature rotating Medieval bookmarks (No.2) and a knob type from the 16th century (No. 8). The knob is even embossed to give it a dimensional effect. An extra bonus is that No. 8 is also an example of bookmarks in art. [Note: can anyone translate the text to English?]
I will end with two bookmarks produced by Asim Maner advertising his now defunct company, Mirage Bookmark’s lines of bookmarks. The metal bookmarks were custom produced and featured precision designs, sometimes with cut outs as in this example. The other line featured beautiful art bookmarks. When Asim heard about my specialty, he was delighted and sent me a batch of his own bookmarks on bookmarks. He also encouraged me to write about them, so after many months and good intentions, I have fulfilled my promise, and I hope you enjoy this short preview. These examples and a few others are in a special gallery. Please send any from your own collection to the IFOB editor to add.
This article titled "Marking Pages with Bits of Life" is not a new article and is another of many such articles about the things people leave in books as intentional or accidental bookmarks. We highlight it because it is about one of our members, Marilyn Scherfen. Unfortunately, her email address no longer works and we have been unable to find her. If you know her, please tell her to update her address. In any case, Marilyn's efforts to categorize and document this "bits of life" is noteworthy! Do you have stories or examples of such bookmarks?
Have you ever seen a bookmark described as a page turner? Or a paper knife? Or a letter opener? This article on The Mystery of the Phantom Page Turner solves the mystery of whether there even is such a thing as a page turner and what distinguishes these other related objects.
"Every so often, a journalist discovers that people use very odd things for bookmarks and librarians and booksellers find them. Here's the latest one.
"What is the cheesiest book you’ve ever read? For Washington DC librarian Anna Holmes, it wasn’t so much the book, as the slice of Kraft American that she found inside it, clearly used by a cheese-loving patron as a bookmark. "
A recent reminder of a trip to Paris a few years ago led me to review photographs of bookmarks found in art works in the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge. While I knew that paintings of this period often showed books with several styles of medieval bookmarks, I was surprised to notice the first one and then began to look for more. Now, anytime I see a book in a work of art, I look closely to see if there is an accompanying bookmark. We have other examples in our Gallery pages. Share with us any examples you have found.
Now that the dust has settled on the second annual World Bookmark Day, I want to reflect on what I learned by organizing the celebration. Frankly, I was worried that this year’s Woboda would fall flat without Asim’s network of supporters, design skill and boundless enthusiasm. The preparations for 2017’s Woboda started almost a year in advance, and January 2018 was really the start for this year. I decided to scale back some of the activities out of necessity and lack of time. Asim, our founder, was able to offer prizes from his bookmark business for the contests such as an article or limerick, but we had nothing to offer this time so those events were eliminated. Would it be possible to generate interest in printable designs and the raffle, both of which were popular last year? I decided to ask two friends who are artists/illustrators with connections to books and reading, and was thrilled when they both agreed to contribute designs. That was the beginning, and then I realized there were other people in my network who might contribute. Sarah Bodman, organizer of the Bookmark Project at the University of the West of England, put me in touch with several artists who contributed designs, and Robin Blum, owner of In My Book, kindly donated some of her wonderful bookmark greeting cards. Our local Bookmark Bookstore not only donated bookmarks found in their donated books but also agreed to host a display. In the end, we had 705 bookmarks contributed or donated, 13 printable designs, and 9 entrants in the raffle. Smaller than last year but still quite respectable!
So what did I learn and what changes might happen for next year?
Planning: First and most obvious is to start planning much earlier, perhaps August or September. I don’t think it is necessary to plan the entire year, but certainly a few months’ notice to all participants makes sense to encourage participation.
Publicity: Besides the IFOB web site, we use other means to bring attention to the event.
Social media: At the suggestion of a member, I started a Facebook page for IFOB which did seem to bring in some additional interest and made it possible for people to keep up with progress on the raffle and comment. It wasn’t too much extra effort to keep up with this, so I will probably do it again. However, I am thinking of keeping the page just for Woboda and possibly starting a Facebook group for IFOB. More on that later, now that I better understand how to use pages vs. groups. Are there other social media platforms that are good for publicizing the event?
Graphics: Last year, Asim created some fun graphics that could be posted on other web sites or printed. Without access to design skills, we didn’t have that option this time, although Rosemarie Abel kindly helped update Wobo. I am still hoping someone will volunteer to create simple graphics for IFOB on occasion. Everything nowadays is so visual that we need to use eye catching designs whenever possible.
Donors/Sponsors: More time to cultivate donors of prizes, raffle contributions or sponsors who might provide funds would be valuable, and I would welcome any suggestions for who to contact.
Designers of printable bookmarks: While we had a couple of people repeat from last year, I anticipate that the same people will not participate every year. How could we identify others who would contribute designs? Do our members know other artists and designers they could ask? Another question is whether we should always put the current year on these bookmarks or create generic Woboda text that could be used every year?
Activities with prizes: If we are able to find donors or sponsors for prizes, should we reinstate the Woboda article and limerick contests? Anything else?
Wobo and Woboda bookmarks around the world: We had only a few people who shared photos of either Wobo, the traveling bookmark or Woboda designs in interesting places around the world. Is this activity worth continuing? Should we offer a prize for the best photo?
Local events: Some members indicated they would like to work with local libraries, bookstores or cafes next year for displays, giveaways or other events. Is there anything we could do to help with these? For example, I could post downloadable versions of the display materials I used.
Raffle: Most of the effort went toward coordinating this activity, which raises several questions.
Our goal in establishing World Bookmark Day was to bring attention to bookmarks as a useful, beautiful and interesting companion to books and reading. People are often surprised to hear about bookmark collectors, but when they stop and think, they realize it is not so unusual and can be quite interesting. From my perspective, we are making progress in realizing our goal as more people become informed and involved. It was really fun for me to interact with them, see the different bookmarks and designs, and get to know some of our members a little better. Most grateful thanks go to all who participated, donated, and contributed! I invite members and anyone to comment on this year’s celebration and ideas for making next year even better. --Laine, IFOB co-editor
We learned about an exciting bookmark contest offering book prizes from Edoardo Bona who says:" I am the manager of a small library in a small Italian village. For 10 years we have organized a bookmarks contest that is having more and more success (2500 bookmarks in 2017) . We have had participants from many foreign countries too (USA, Madagascar, France, Germany, Turkey, Philippines). For this reason I am sending e-mail to collectors, libraries and Institutions that organize or have organized competitions bookmarks hoping that they can help us to share the contest." Check here for the contest rules in English. The web site has a wonderful quote: "It may surprise you that a library would promote reading through an unusual means such as a bookmark rather than through lectures, readings and book presentations. Yet the bookmark is a wonderful symbol of the joy of reading: it is the travel ticket that accompanies you through the pages of a book; it is the proof of your pleasure to hold in your hand a book, to browse it, to read it, to feel it your own."
With the kind permission of The Bookmark Society's Joint Editor, Sylvia Bunting, here is the lovely tribute that appeared in the printed July 2017 Issue 28 of TBS News:
Those who have had contact with Asim Maner in one of his many roles, will be sorry to hear that he died unexpectedly a few weeks ago The bookmark world will miss him greatly.
Asim's primary business, under the name of Mirage, was the manufacturer of bookmarks--striking designs in etched metal and in card. Members will recall the 25th anniversary bookmark which he created for T B S last year. But bookmarks were far more than a business to him. He researched and produced both a book on early French bookmarks and a scholarly article tracing the earliest known bookmarks, from the binding of early codices in the first few centuries CE, to mediaeval bookmarks pre-1500.
The article was published via IFOB, yet another brainchild of Asim's. Realising the lack of a truly international gathering point for those interested in collecting or handling bookmarks, he created the website-based International Friends of Bookmarks. Here there are facilities to showcase, discuss and swap bookmarks, and this was the springboard from which he instituted the first International Bookmark Day in February. The Bookmark Society also benefited from the publicity and contact links on the IFOB website.
Asim was enthusiastic, creative and scrupulous in acknowledging those who helped him. He spread not only information but enthusiasm. We do not know as yet how much of his work can be carried on, but what he has already put in place constitutes a unique contribution to our awareness of bookmarks.
We send our sympathy to Asim's wife Effi and to his family.