The ethics of underlining library books?

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Underline and erase enough times, and a hole is going to get worn in the paper.

If someone is too lazy to write down what they need, and too cheap (or broke) to scan copies to mark up, then they probably need to give up their academic pursuits and get a real job.

They didn't have Post-it notes when I was in college, but I was able to figure out ways to keep track of things without having to vandalize property that didn't belong to me.
No post-it notes? What are you, 106? LOL
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
No post-it notes? What are you, 106?
They weren't generally available at retail until 1980. A prior test marketing effort in 1977 was a failure.

The guy who invented them sang in a Presbyterian choir. He used them to keep his placemarkers from falling out of his hymnbooks.
 

reaganmarsh

Puritan Board Senior
At SBTS the library offered a research orientation course. They told us to read the books with either a notepad or a laptop beside us. The suggestion was simple but effective: outline the chapter briefly, jot a few summary bullet points at the end of each chapter, and note any pertinent quotes/insights. This practice, they said, would preserve the Seminary's books and sharpen our research skills.
 

gkterry

Puritan Board Freshman
Personally, if I was a librarian I would not mind people marking books in pencil. In my mind, that would reassure me that the books were being read and put to good use. ;)
Bad idea. In this computerized age librarians have ways of tracking when and how many times a book circulates. Also, if a book is damaged and needs replacing that costs the library money. Library funds are decreasing every year. . . . I know because I work at a library.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Edward,

You said about my using Scotch tape, "That's probably even more damaging to the books than the underlining would be."

Actually I had earlier read the article you referenced; I'm a librarian myself, and study the care of books. The article, when speaking of cellophane tape, had in mind the repairing of pages using that stuff, and indeed it can cause great damage—can really ruin books . . . as I've learned when using such tape to fix torn Bible pages. It was a bad move, and I learned not to do that anymore!

What I occasionally do (though I'll think twice before doing it further, after your thoughts), is use a large Post-it or a piece of paper and using a very small piece of Scotch tape attach it to the inside front or back cover to take notes on (I read a lot on the subways, or waiting in various offices). When I am done with the book I very carefully remove the tape and paper—and I examine the book part I had taped to—to see if I had done any damage. Which I haven't so far, being careful, and making sure the area of the tape on book is very small.

I do value having the use of library materials—particularly InterLibrary Loan, which accesses seminary and university libraries—and the librarians note what care I take of their books. (Once I had a book of Greg Beale's—John's Use of the Old Testament in Revelation—long out of print and extremely rare, and I saw on Amazon the only copy available in the world, as far as I could tell, would cost $6,000 if I had to replace it; I took very good care of that book! And brought it back to the library quickly.)

But thanks for your thoughts—they'll just make me the more careful.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Hello Edward,

You said about my using Scotch tape, "That's probably even more damaging to the books than the underlining would be."

Actually I had earlier read the article you referenced; I'm a librarian myself, and study the care of books. The article, when speaking of cellophane tape, had in mind the repairing of pages using that stuff, and indeed it can cause great damage—can really ruin books . . . as I've learned when using such tape to fix torn Bible pages. It was a bad move, and I learned not to do that anymore!
Steve, and anyone else who may be interested, this tape is supposed to be just the ticket for repairing Bible, and other book pages, while doing no harm. A bit too pricey for me to bite that bullet just yet, but I hear/read that it is the real McCoy.

http://www.amazon.com/Lineco-Archiv...d=1437970410&sr=8-5&keywords=book+repair+tape
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Personally, if I was a librarian I would not mind people marking books in pencil. In my mind, that would reassure me that the books were being read and put to good use. ;)
Bad idea. In this computerized age librarians have ways of tracking when and how many times a book circulates. Also, if a book is damaged and needs replacing that costs the library money. Library funds are decreasing every year. . . . I know because I work at a library.
I note that you sneakily moved the wink from its original positon. ;)
 

gkterry

Puritan Board Freshman
I note that you sneakily moved the wink from its original positon. ;)[/QUOTE said:
Well if I did it was completely by accident. I wasn't paying attention to it and I meant nothing by doing it.
 

psycheives

Puritan Board Freshman
I fully agree with everyone who indicated that treating someone else's property against their express wishes is ethically wrong. And so marking borrowed books in any possibly damaging way without or against the owner's consent is wrong.

However, to move a little away from the question of right and wrong (since this has firmly been established), I do appreciate Jacob's thought that as readers, we do OFTEN find the highlights and markings of others helpful. When writing research papers, I have found others' underlines very helpful. Unfortunately, while some people have a knack for highlighting especially key passage, others tend to find everything a key passage. :p Underlining is helpful to many of us. But it is also distracting to many others. This is exactly why Kindle books share the "most frequently underlined sentences" in a book by underlining them for Kindle readers and make this a feature you can turn on or off. :)
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Even though I don't want to stir the pot, when I have time I will reframe the question. We agree that we shouldn't underline in library books, but at the same time we haven't addressed the telos of a thing, nor its use. When I get my notes on Oliver O'Donovan's Christological Moral Realism in the Medieval Neo-Platonic Poverty Tradition (yes, that is a real and viable position) ordered, then I think I can reframe the debate and perhaps we can all gain knowledge.
 

Warren

Puritan Board Freshman
The librarian is a public servant, and it serves me that I write in her books. I've {redacted}, why can't I write in public books? Should I not walk on the sidewalk, either? Careful: public property, here! :rolleyes:


*Edited by Moderator. Reason: TMI*
 
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OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
My thinking is that if it's not your property then you are to use it the way they say you can use it. Your notes on the margins might not ever be seen by anyone thus not distracting to the next viewer, or your notes might be seen by the next reader and be helpful or distracting, but all of that is neither here nor there. It's not yours to do with as you see fit. Getting permission to write in it would be the proper thing to do. :2cents:
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Ha! Back in my seminary days a "friend" asked to borrow a book of mine. It was in pristine condition. He gave it back and he had highlighted in marker, underlined, circled, and even written comments - all in ink, he had dog-eared several pages, etc. and this jerk had the audacity to act shocked when I told him that I expected him to buy me a new book to replace that one.
Years ago, I had a pastor friend mark up a new book that I lent him. But he bought me a new one.
 
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