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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Observer On the Mistreatment of Library Books

Thomas Jefferson once remarked, “Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men [and women], setting out in life, it is their only capital.” I share our founding father’s perspective on library books. I am prodded to write on this matter this week, because I had the displeasure and misfortune of finding a book in the Healey Library, entitled “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA” by Tim Weiner, that was marred by highlights and underlining in pen. I had a similar experience with Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, but the underlining in that particular book was done in select passages and in pencil, which were promptly erased by my eraser. I realize that it is quite convenient for students to highlight and underline library books or any literature for that matter, but I find it reprehensible when they do so to books that is both the capital and property of our community at UMB. Doubtlessly, some readers will just pass off my lone protest at such irresponsible and callous as the words of a bibliophile and nagging individual. I would tell to these individuals that their attitude is mistaken in that they don’t know how to appreciate the public good that the library books represent. In addition, I would ask them to consider this type of behavior from another perspective. If you had a favorite movie and someone decided to add their own commentary onto that DVD or Blu-Ray that you just rented out, wouldn’t you make an issue of it with the offender? I certainly would, because it’s the same thing for the library books that have been defaced by highlights and underlining in ink. Such damage is irreparable. The remedy is quite simple. If you find a relevant or interesting quote in a book that you’re reading for a paper or personal fulfillment, write it down on a scratch piece of paper or notebook for your own purposes. In doing so, you have just done a small and subtle public service that will be appreciated by the next person who checks out the book you’re currently using. Our school is not so rich that it can afford to replace books which have been defaced by the graffiti of careless patrons of the Healey Library. It’s your good fortune as students and library patrons to have such a resource available to you on campus or anywhere in America – as many developing countries don’t possess such a valuable public resource in their communities. Library books constitute capital. Therefore all of us must endeavor to do our part to maintain the condition of our library books – even though it may be easier to do the opposite.

About the Contributor
Dillon Zhou served as opinions editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011