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Re: [BKARTS] Secret book repair

    I think the whole ethical issue of repairing publically owned books involves
the concept of "ownership."  To assert that libraries "own" books, or worse, that
librarians are the owners of the books under their aegis, just reinforces the
popular conception of librarians as anal-retentive, secretive, and
overly-possessive.  I can only imagine the reaction of such a typical librarian to
an attempt by an unwelcome "outsider" to establish a dialog about the repair of a
    Libraries don't own the books in a public library, either legally or morally.
The books in the library at 40th and Walnut here are owned by the city of
Philadelphia, in which I-- an affirmed taxpayer--- reside.
    Disrepair blocks the usefulness of books in the same way that trash can block
a sidewalk. Should I attempt to move a pile of trash blocking the sidewalk?  Maybe
I shouldn't--- I might make a mess of it, as indeed some children would.  Better
just leave it and its attendant hazard alone.  To me this is the ethical core of
the issue.  Better to do no wrong, sure, but to do nothing could--- as one reader
pointed out--- jeopardize the future of the volume under consideration.
Discretion and responsibility are the watchwords here.
    This is one of the most interesting threads ever arising on BOOK_ARTS.  Keep
the letters coming!

"Rachel M. Kadel-Garcia" wrote:

> On Mon, 14 Mar 2005, J. J. Foncannon wrote:
> > I don't quite follow the chain of ethical reasoning that leads to the
> > comment:
> >
> >
> > I think that it's quite inappropriate to rebind books without the owners'
> > permission or knowledge.  And I think that a lot of the maltreatment of
> > library books we see stems from not really thinking of the books as being
> > the property of the library.
> >
> >    I found in my personal library a tattered copy of a book of folk songs
> > which belonged to the Kansas City Public Library. (Believe me when I say I
> > don't know how it got there, since I believe that people who steal books from
> > libraries should be put to sleep.  I lived in Kansas City over 35 years ago.)
> >
> >    I rebound the book in blue leather with a nice 3/4 binding, and I am
> > returning it to the library.  No one can convince me that this is a bad thing
> > to do.
> The first part seems pretty obvious to me: if I lent a book (or another
> object) to someone, I wouldn't want them to significantly alter it without
> my knowledge or permission, even if their intent is to repair or improve
> it.  And because of that, I wouldn't rebind a borrowed book without
> permission myself.  I don't know what aspects of the book in its original
> condition might be of value to the owner; I have unpreposessing books on
> my shelves that have sentimental value which militates against altering
> them.
> Separately, there are lots of people who apparently think it's OK to
> highlight in library books, write their shopping lists on the endsheets,
> tear out pages that they want, etc.  Some of this treatment comes from
> straight-up theives and vandals, but I think a lot of it comes from
> basically decent people who just think of library books as not really
> belonging to someone else.  (I've heard people suggest that it would be
> acceptable to secretly replace their library's signed-by-the-author copy
> of a book with another, unsigned copy.  I think the outrage some people
> express over donated books being discarded or resold also has to do with
> thinking of library books as ownerless, and the library as being without
> agency.)
> If the first paragraph isn't convincing to you, if you *would* borrow a
> book from someone and rebind it without asking, then the whole line of
> reasoning doesn't work.  But if you wouldn't rebind someone else's book
> without asking but you would do it with a library book, then I think that
> ties into the problem of thinking of library books as ownerless.
> On a more practical level: is it OK for a patron to reattach torn-out
> leaves in a library book?  Lots of people would think yes, but many of
> those same people think that sticky tape is a paper repair material.
> Sure, they don't know what they're doing, but they don't *know* that they
> don't know what they're doing.  There may be things that you don't know
> about the book, or the way the library does things, that would dictate
> handling the repair differently, or doing an enclosure rather than a
> repair.
>                                                 Rachel
>              ***********************************************
>      The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist
>              For all your subscription questions, go to the
>                       Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
>                   Both at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>
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J. J. Foncannon
Philadelphia, PA  19139

 The Belgian surrealist painter Renee Magritte entered a cheese store in Brussels
to purchase a wheel of Swiss cheese.  The owner pulled a wheel from the front
window, but Magritte said he preferred the one on the back counter.
 ?But they are identical,? the owner protested.
 ?No,? Magritte insisted.  ?This one?s been stared at.?

     The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist

             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.

                  Both at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>

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