…or at least the concept of property is lost in academia. Yesterday we had somebody turn in half a dozen miniature scores upon which every library ID marking (including the barcodes we use to check them in) had been covered over with permanent white labels. This included in one case an old embossed stamp which was in the content of the score (thus the label covered up the notes). I have no idea why, unless it had to do with a competition. He’s being charged for the items. Then last night in the book drop, a grad student left another half-dozen books full of underlinings and markings in pencil. He might have gotten away with it had he not left a paper tab in a marked page, with writing on it that matched the annotations. I checked the items back out to him and “invited” him to erase the markings before I would take them off his record (unless he wanted to take the other option, which would be to pay the University-default $115 per item.) He sent me a polite email accepting my invitation, but defending himself:
I was unaware of how much this practice bothered the library …. I used to always erase my markings. The reason I leave underlinings and comments is due to some advice from a Medieval Studies professor. He once said that we should all perform glosses in modern texts by leaving our notes in their pages, just as medieval scholars did, because it gives other current and future readers insights into what others thought about the text. In fact, one of the books I was underlining in spends several pages discussing marginalia written in modern books…
Gloss away, in your own books. I’m cool with that. But tell me…when you buy used textbooks, do you prefer the clean copies, or the “value added” copies? What do your fellow students prefer?
A library is not a commons. These are not “the students’ books”. They belong to the University, which in exchange for a bundle of bucks allows you to read them. That bundle of bucks does not buy personal copies of commonly used books, for you to treat as your own property. If we had to do that, our purchases of real scholarly works would be minimal. You could forget things like the Margaret Bent commentary/facsimile of Bologna Q15 that’s sitting in my office waiting for a shelf label. And we wouldn’t be buying so much popular music studies and “gender studies” crap either, unless required for a course, in which case we’d be buying the umpteen copies to mark up.
There’s a missing concept here: “property”. And it’s being anti-taught by some Medieval Studies prof somewhere.