Bookmarking Local Literary Landscapes

Have you heard about the nationwide initiative, Project Bookmark? It’s goal is to install permanent poster-sized ceramic plaques featuring text from a story or poem in related geographical locations. I know – that’s a mouthful. So picture this — the project’s first “bookmark” was installed at the Bloor Street Viaduct and featured a passage from Michael Ondaatje’s iconic Toronto novel, In the Skin of a Lion, which referenced that specific location.

According to the project’s website, a Bookmark can be found in the exact physical location where the literary scene takes place, so that the visitor can read the story or poem while standing just where the narrator or characters stand. Pretty cool, right?

It all started in Ontario, but now we have our very first Bookmark here in Vancouver. Located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Pender and Gore in Chinatown, it highlights (in English and Mandarin) the physical landscape vividly rendered in Wayson Choy’s iconic novel, The Jade Peony

Good to know about, in general, and please read more about the project here. But it also got me thinking that libraries could use this project as inspiration for “bookmarking” in our own communities. Some ideas:

  • Start a program in partnership with your local municipality to mark significant locations of literary interest, either permanently or temporarily.
  • Create a local map handout of such locations in your city.
  • Host a local literary scavenger hunt with these locations.
  • Etc., etc…

What do you think? How can libraries use the idea of literary bookmarking in programs and/or services?

Heidi Schiller, Librarian, North Vancouver City Library

(Photo courtesy of Vancouver is Awesome: http://vancouverisawesome.com/2012/10/16/the-jade-peony-bookmarked-in-chinatown/)

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