Often when I’m processing books there will be bookmarks, post-its and other debris in them from previous patrons that the other library missed before sending the book on to us. I’ve found some interesting bookmarks this way, usually snapshots of a building or a typical bookmark promoting a school or library event. One bookmark that particularly struck me was one from Georgetown University. On the front there was this message:
“BE CONSIDERATE! Did you know that writing, underlining, or highlighting in library books is an Academic Integrity and Honor System Violation? Defacing, theft, or destruction of books and articles or other library materials that serves to deprive others of equal access to these materials constitutes a violation of academic integrity. – Honor System, Standards of Conduct”
I’d never thought about defacing books as a violation of academic integrity before. True, I would not condone writing or highlighting in a book that the library owns but it is an interesting take on the problem. I wonder if Georgetown’s library has seen a decrease in book notes as a result of handing out this particular bookmark? Unfortunately, we do not get enough books from them on a regular basis to get some statistics and I don’t see a date on this bookmark so I couldn’t tell if there was a before and after period for the writing. Would a violation of the codes of conduct result in a fine or something more severe if it were policed? It would take a lot of resources to contact everyone who returned a book with some markings inside. I did a quick count of books we received from the other UC libraries yesterday and 40% of the books we received had some sort of defacement with underlining (usually in pencil) being most common and notes in the margins being the next most common. I did not count dog-earred pages.
While I appreciate the sentiment behind the bookmark, I think I’d rather have something about the library’s services or even the hours on a bookmark I was giving out to patrons. I don’t think someone who plans to use a highlighter in the book would be deterred by this reminder and if they are looking at the bookmark it’s a missed opportunity to promote the library’s resources – a chance to highlight a new database or advertise an exhibit. Now if the library started printing this on post-its (acid-free, of course) to give to students then it would encourage a positive alternative to the note-taking in the book behavior as well as promote awareness of library etiquette.
Thank you, Georgetown library for my new bookmark. I’m going to go look at the standards of conduct at the UC to see if defacement of library books is included it seems like a good one to
highlight make patrons aware of.