About the Physical Collection

This collection contains a variety of ephemera and objects. The items were collected by library employee James Flowers circa 2010 to his retirement in 2021. Materials include handwritten notes and drawings; library and reference materials; cards; clippings and loose pages; bookmarks; fliers, brochures and pamphlets; correspondence and stationery; order forms; invoices, receipts, and tickets; labels and stickers; and other materials.

About the Digital Collection

The digital collection includes materials selected from the greater physical collection.

Biographical Note

In 1995, James Flowers started working for UNT Libraries as a student assistant. The following year, Flowers began a full-time position in Remote Storage where he found various objects and ephemera in returned library books. Items like post-it notes and paperclips were removed from the books in order to be reshelved. Flowers noted that he set aside items that stood out to him, but initially did not give much thought to creating a collection.

Around 2010, Flowers stated that he began actively collecting ephemera after finding a note in an old reference book, which reveals the message, "...this won’t be found for 50 maybe 100 years! Now that you’ve found it, was I right? Is it 2035 A.D.?” Flowers recalled, “I found this intriguing, that a book was used as a means to communicate, just like a message in a bottle.” Flowers shared that he flipped through pages of books to try to find more messages like this one, but instead found other interesting items to add to the growing collection. He did unearth another note, which he described as being his favorite. The note reads, “Hello. I am from the year 1994. I am attempting to travel through time...” Flowers also mentioned that he was able to find some ephemera when standing on a ladder and looking down at the top edge of books during his usual book retrieval and return process. Visible breaks in pages indicated that an item was left behind.

In 2021, Flowers retired from UNT and donated the collection of found objects and ephemera to Special Collections.

At a Glance

Cite This Collection

Here is our suggested citation. Consult an appropriate style guide for conformance to specific guidelines.

James Flowers Collection of Ephemera Found in Returned Library Books in UNT Digital Library. University of North Texas Libraries. https://digital.library.unt.edu/explore/collections/EFRLB/ accessed June 18, 2024.

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