HESSTON — The staff at Hesston Public Library took what began as a collection of castoffs and turned it into an artful exhibit called "Mark My Words." The display gives viewers a look at what can be found in books beyond the words printed on its pages.
"It all started with a banana peel," said Librarian Emily Miller.
The banana peel was found marking a page in one of the library's returned books, evoking both disgust and amusement.
"After that, we just started noticing different things that we found in books," Miller said.
Other items began piling up in a tub containing shopping lists, doodles and pens — each returned inside a library book.
"We collected them just for ourselves at first, because they made us smile," Miller said.
Miller said it was the idea of Libby Albers, Hesston Public Library director, to put the found items on display.
Bookmarks collected for an 18-month period in 2016 and 2017 are clipped to rows of string using miniature clothespins.
"My favorites are the nail files because there are so many," Miller laughed. "It's not like they were all in one book. I don't know if it's one person who always does that or if it's just one of those things that we all have on our nightstand."
Dental floss, plastic gloves, hair ties, tissues and napkins hang next to business cards, pencils, newspaper clippings and photographs.
"A few may have circulated in interlibrary loans, but most are from here," Miller said.
The librarians try to return bookmarks to readers — especially those that may have sentimental value. Miller said part of the reason for the exhibit was to reunite more items with their owners. The things displayed in "Mark My Words" can be claimed beginning March 1.
Next to the exhibit, the library offers a selection of free — and flat — bookmarks for patrons to take and use.
"If it's too thick for one of our tiny clothespins to clip onto, it's probably not a good idea to use it as a bookmark," Miller said. "Use something flat."
"Mark My Words" is on exhibit through Feb. 28.
Hesston Public Library, located at 300 N. Main St. in Hesston, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
For more information, call 620-327-4666 or visit http://hesston.scklf.info.