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A Quick Guide to DIY Library Bookmarks

If it is true you can tell a person by their bookmark, I can only imagine the stories librarians have to share. Generally speaking, bookmarks tend to be whatever you have on hand to mark the point of interruption (better than the headstone of the person interrupting your reading). Over the years, I have read many reports from librarians of the variety of ‘bookmarks’ left in library books. This can range from a handcrafted leather bookmark to…a piece of cheese?!? And this is exactly the reason why so many libraries now provide their own bookmarks. 

Just so you know, the following guide is for making bookmarks for libraries. We’re talking bulk bookmarks, cheap bookmarks, and easy bookmarks. We’re especially looking for anything to make life easier for our favourite librarians. Yes, there will be a bit of a library theme to our library bookmarks, but if you are looking for personal individual bookmarks, my fellow Book Rioters have found a magnificent range of DIY bookmarks for you to explore here.

If, however, you have taken on the task of creating some library bookmarks, then this is for you. Maybe you have become the Fount of All Books for your COVID-19 Lockdown Book Club. Maybe you are a sweet school librarian, fostering a sense of hope for kids. Or maybe you work at the local public library and your fellow colleagues are simply begging for something – anything – to encourage your patrons to use a damn bookmark (and not whatever they can reach at the time). 

Start With a Template

Here’s the good news: there are a few online services to help you create your library bookmarks. My two favourites are Canva and LibraryAware.

If you are an official library service, you may already know about LibraryAware. It’s a web-based tool for promotional features in your library. Amongst all the things LibraryAware offers, they also provide templates for bookmarks, including library bookmarks. Everything you design can be sent through to your standard office printer.

If you do not have access to LibraryAware or your library is a little on the smaller scale, check out Canva. They also have a range of templates and customised designs for bookmarks. Some of their templates are available for free, or you can sign up for any of the plans, with additional services and products. On the plus side, you can download your design as a PDF, making it easy to print. However, it looks to me like you can only print one side of one bookmark per page. If you’re looking at printing a bulk lot of bookmarks, this is not going to make life easy for you.

There are also plenty of bookmark templates available to download and design your own. Most bookmarks are between 2 inches wide and 7-8 inches long. If you stick with a 2 x 7 inches, you can comfortably fit five (5) bookmarks to an A4 page; very helpful if you are printing and cutting yourself. 

Design Your Own Library Bookmarks

Okay, now that the template stuff is out of the way, it’s time for some creativity! What you put on your bookmark is going to depend on you, your audience (i.e. patrons), and your brand (i.e. the library, public image, and any rules relating to content). 

A couple of tips to help you start:

  • Bookmarks stick out: The point of a bookmark is to stick out and mark the page where you stopped. If you want a stand-out feature or brand logo, put it at the top. This is also a great place to add cute features, like cats peaking over the top of the book or rainbows coming out. 
  • Images are better than words: Don’t let ‘reading the bookmark’ distract from reading the book. Quotes and short excerpts can be great (more on those shortly), but you are better off keeping it simple. 
  • Think of the purpose: Is the bookmark for the reader or the book? Some libraries have bookmarks like ye olde library cards, to keep with the book and remind people when to return their book (bonus feature for reviews on the B-side of the bookmark). Other libraries have bookmarks for readers to keep, with space to note down what they are reading and when. If your library also has a book club, consider a bookmark with space to write down reference pages and quotes. 
  • Keep it Dynamic: Bookmarks, like books, will appeal to different readers at different times. Bookmarks can be a great opportunity to promote new books and genres. “If you enjoyed reading Circe then you are going to love…” The best part of designing your own library bookmarks is you can keep it fresh. Update your design whenever the occasion calls for it. 

Say It With Bookmarks

If you’re going to put an inspirational quote on a library bookmark, make it a good one. Fellow Book Rioter Abby has a list of 59 Quotes About Libraries and Librarians here. That’s at least a new one each week, plus extra for good measure.

Pop culture always has a great selection of images and quotes to work with as well. My personal favourite is Doctor Who

Kids’ books are a treasure trove for images and quotes. Book Rioter Rachel has 9 of the Best Children’s Books About Libraries and Librarians here.

Library bookmarks can be the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your fellow readers. For a little extra time, money, and effort, you can win their heart and open their mind. And for those of us collecting the bookmarks, remember next time to give your librarian a nod of respect – not the receipt to your dry-cleaning.