I’m a librarian. Currently I work at the reference desk, but in the past I’ve worked at the circulation desk (where the books come back in and get checked out). Nothing – well, almost nothing – gets me more steamed than when a book is returned with scads of fresh marginal notes and underlining. I dislike the practice so much, that I’m hesitant to mark in my own books – for fear that I’ll one day donate the book to a library and make another librarian hot-under-the-collar because of my marginalia.
I have one good friend who marks up his own books quite a bit. He reasons that each underline is an act of “praying” the text back to God. He reads and studies as an act of devotion. What a guy! That being said, I’m very glad he does not “pray” in the library’s books. (I’m now stepping quietly off of the soap box.)
Now there’s a way to write in borrowed books (or even your own) without ticking off librarians!** The “unclutterer” recently posted about 3M’s Sheer Color Post-it Notes. These notes are transparent, allowing the reader to lay down the protective note on a page of text and “mark up” the note instead of the book. Genius!
Of course if the book is really good, and you want to use one of these stickies on each page, you will end up with a very fat book (with a skinny binding). This leads me to another pet peeve. At the end of the semester, we get loads of book returns. There’s bound to be several books in the pile that has Post-its hanging off of every other page with the last patron’s annotations. What a pain to remove them! (It’s not as big a pain as erasing pencil marks or lamenting pen/marker marks, but still a pain!) So, if you do start using these Sheer Post-its on library books, make sure you remove them first.