It was the best of bookmarks; it was the worst of bookmarks.
Everyone on Twitter has been taco-ing about a rather unique bookmark a former LaPorte County librarian found.
Self-described hipster librarian Amanda Mae took the internet by storm after tweeting Saturday a picture of a flattened soft shell taco pressed between the pages of a badly cheese-stained book with the caption: "Don’t have a bookmark? Try using a taco. (Actual photo of an actual book found in the book drop at my library in Indiana a few years back)."
Don't worry: no actual library books were harmed in the making of a tweet that garnered 13,000 retweets and 61,000 likes as of Wednesday afternoon, earning media coverage from across the country. The taco-defiled book was a donation.
"The LaPorte County Library got the book with the taco as part of a book donation, so it was not an actual library book at least," Mae said.
Mae, who worked at the LaPorte County Library from 2012 to 2014, believes someone dropped off the infamous "taco book" in 2011 and it's been the stuff of legends ever since.
"The taco book was one of the great stories other library staff would tell new staff about," she said. "It's weird and it's funny and you just wonder how it came to be. The book was thrown away after the picture was taken."
It's believed to be a copy of "Nonsense Songs and Stories," illustrated by Edward Lear.
"A lot of fellow librarians and book lovers are both amused and horrified," Mae said. "Ask any public librarian and they will have stories of odd things found in books that get returned to the library, and some of them responded to my tweet. I've seen paychecks, $50 and $100 bills, family photos, feminine hygiene products and gift cards used as bookmarks. If we can track down who they belong to, we do our best to return many of those items."
She was responding to a "Don't have a bookmark?" meme brands like Chex Mix and Vitamin Water were doing to promote their products by humorously suggesting they could be used to mark one's place in a book.
"It was the Oreo one that reminded me of the Taco Book photo I had from my time at the LaPorte Library," Mae said. I thought it was funny and only expected a few people to find it amusing. It was a complete surprise to me that it went viral. I'm glad the LaPorte Library and their staff are getting a share of the spotlight because it did happen there. I think people have responded to it because it is so funny and different, and a real-life example of the meme that was not staged."
The jokes flew in instantly. More than 2,400 people have responded so far to Mae's Tweet, and Stephen Colbert joked about it on "The Late Show."
"The main responses I got were essentially, 'How could you do that to both book and taco,' 'Oh, that's where I left it,' and 'Of course this was Indiana,'" she said. "I've been amused and bewildered by the tweet going viral. I saw that LaPorte Library used the attention to promote their upcoming book sale, which I think is great. If public libraries are able to use the joke to highlight their services and bring more patrons to them, I'm grateful it happened."
Muchos Mas Fresh Mex Grill, which has locations in LaPorte and Michigan City, has taken credit for the taco.
"So I have it on pretty good authority that this was one of our tacos," the restaurant posted on Facebook. "We would like to take a moment to let the public know that we in no way condone this kind of taco abuse. If you or a loved one has a taco that is not being eaten or enjoyed the way it should be, please get help."
Mae said she would not be surprised if it was in fact Mucho Mas but stressed, "It would have been a shame to waste a good taco like that."
"As a public librarian, I would encourage people to not dog-ear pages of library books and do not use food products or items of importance as bookmarks," she said. "Many libraries have bookmarks you're free to take, or use a sticky note or old shopping list that you wouldn't mind if it accidentally got returned with your book."