This week I was speaking with the preservation librarian at Rice University’s Fondren Library. He had a table set up across from the circulation desk and was demonstrating methods of book repair. I asked him to name the most memorable object he had ever found in a library book and without pause he said: “A strip of uncooked bacon.” The meat hadn’t rotted, he said, but had dried to the consistency of old leather. I hadn’t expected such an intersection of books and comestibles, but he added that on another occasion he found a book with a perfectly round wine stain on the left-hand page and a perfectly round coffee stain on the right – a vandal with a taste for symmetry.
I told Dave Lull, a librarian in Duluth, about my conversation and he passed along a post from the AbeBooks blog titled “A List of 27 Surprisingly Bizarre Objects Used as Bookmarks.” At least three of their items qualify as foodstuffs, including “a rasher of bacon” and its perfect complement, “a sunny-side-up fried egg.” Also, a fork.