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Despite working at the library for several years now, I've only recently begun to notice a group of people whom I've begun to refer to as "bookmarkers." My guess is that these people don't want to be bothered with remembering what books they have read (probably because they read so many) and so they "mark" every library book that they read. Some are simple check marks, dots, stars, etc while others are very specific like initials, circle with an "x" (whom I've begun to refer to as the x-man), or a check with a line through it written only in red pen. Almost all are in pen (though one person uses stickers). I bring this up today because while weeding some older fictions I found one who hid theirs in the book pocket.
I'm curious to know; do other libraries have these "bookmarkers" as well? Mine are almost exclusively in large print books. In one way, it does serve as an interesting history of library users and what each like to read. However, with charge histories and reading lists, there are much easier ways of keeping track of what people read.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 27th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
I've seen it a lot too, largely with people who consume a lot of some genre, be it romance or Western, and frequently with patrons who are bedbound and sending someone else to make selections. As long as the marks are fairly discreet it doesn't bother me. The people who do it are usually very heavy users of the library, and frequently elderly and uninterested in taking the time to become sufficiently computer savvy to use charge histories or reading lists.
Jan. 27th, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
Same here, I worked for my local public library just after we got computerised systems, and a lot of this marking was a holdover from then - again it was a lot of genre fiction/large print, and people borrowing on behalf of others. As long as the marks didn't spoil it for others, it wasn't worth worrying about.

Unlike the people who tried to make 'corrections' ...
Jan. 27th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
I remember seeing it a lot in large print and romances as well (when I worked in a public library). Some libraries paste a slip in the back of the book, similar to the old slip for the date due stamp, with a heading like "Put your reminder here instead of marking the book". It does seem to be older people, who wouldn't necessarily use electronic lists and reminders.

I once helped an older woman who said she was looking for a book she hadn't read. She knew if she'd read one because there was a circle around a certain page number. Then she looked at me and said, "I don't do that, but the person who does reads the same books as me!"
Jan. 28th, 2014 12:16 am (UTC)
That is adorable!
Jan. 27th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
This is fascinating! I don't think I've ever caught one, but now I'll make a point of looking!
Jan. 27th, 2014 11:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, we have those all in our large print books. Mostly we just ignore it, since it doesn't make a significant impact. We've only ever actually talked to one patron about it, that being the person who decided that it would be easier if they didn't even have to pull the book out to look inside; we had to explain that we actually use those spine labels, so please stop crossing out the cutters with black marker.
Jan. 27th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
I haven't noticed it in our small community library, but we don't keep records of what people have read either. They'd have to keep their own list and sometimes I do see a few people who come in with a notebook or list of what they've read or are looking for.
Jan. 27th, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
We have them, definitely. They're not usually an issue, although they can be amusing, depending on the mark used. It's mostly in the genre fiction or the long-running series, so that the people who are trying to keep track over time don't have to remember. Which can be tricky when all their books come in on request...
Jan. 28th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC)
Oh yes! We had those - totally forgot about it :)
Jan. 28th, 2014 04:23 am (UTC)
The books from the days of book pockets or date due slips were covered by book markers. Some still complain about the library doing away with the sign out slips in the pockets (long before my 15 years). When we finally did away with stamping due dates, many were upset about not having a place to mark the book. I told them they could continue to make their mark on the upper inside corner of the back cover (not far from where their old marks were).

They keep the marks small, so it's not any more damaging than the marks the library puts on it before it reaches the shelf, it makes them happy, and often make other people happy when they recognize another reader's "mark" in a book they haven't read, but know the reader has similar taste.

But the woman who decided to stack up paperbacks and run a ballpoint pen across the tops of the books, to the point of making small tears on some pages? Told to stop within minutes of me noticing it, having her tell me that she didn't do, then me making a point of looking at all the other paperbacks on the shelf (she only read pb) and pointing out only the ones she'd just brought in had that specific mark meant no further appearance of said mark.

There may be "easier" ways to us, but to most users, simply making a pen(cil) mark is far easier. They can browse at the shelf and quickly see what they've read. It's actually come in handy when I've had homebound patrons call and ask me to select books to be picked up for them. They're generally voracious readers and "book markers" (and I know who most of the marks represent) so I can tell at a glance if they've read it instead of checking the computer for each book.
Jan. 28th, 2014 06:42 am (UTC)
We have less than a half-dozen and their numbers are, sadly, dwindling because they're all older ladies and most are in poor health. They read romance and mysteries and especially like authors like Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb who write both. At least two of them have switched to large print entirely, but several still read regular print. They make tiny checks or symbols and one writes her first initial in lower-case.

Each branch in our region has a unique identifying letter (the first letter of either the town or the county where the branch is located, and an R for Regional Headquarters). Each book at our branch has our letter written on the upper left corner of the first page. If the letter is underlined, the book was donated rather than purchased. (This is to help the catalogers at HQ distinguish between the different branches' books and to help our head librarian tell at a glimpse which books we've spent money on.)

Our bookmarkers tend to cluster their marks around our identifying letter. Apparently, they thought it was a patron's initial and that that person had read an awful lot of books. We set them straight after one asked whose mark was in all the books and what the underlining meant.

None of them keep lists of what they've read anymore because they've read so much the lists would be impossibly long. The marks they make are small and unobtrusive. We haven't tried to stop them. Give it ten years or so and there won't be any of them left. I'll miss them a lot more than I miss the horrible old man who used to censor the swearwords in non-fiction books by marking through them with a black Sharpie.
Jan. 28th, 2014 09:22 am (UTC)
A patron at the library I work at does this with our comic book collection and it breaks my heart because I end up having to weed comics (before the date I would normally weed them) that are otherwise perfectly good. :(
Jan. 28th, 2014 09:28 am (UTC)
Never come across that, BUT not worked in public libraries either. I do find it quite fascinating, and if I wasn't a) finished my MA LIS and b) not doing another research degree, I'd love to do a study on these and their social reading connections! It's rather fascinating for me to see that the concepts of sites like Goodreads and Shelfari etc. aren't even slightly new.
Jan. 29th, 2014 07:09 am (UTC)
THis is a pet peeve of mine. At my library it's mostly in the large print, but here's the kicker -- the people write "reviews" of the books inside them. A check and a plus is a good book, a check and a minus is a bad one, and there was one person who wrote "yuk" right in the front if they didn't like what they read. We had to put little white label stickers over them and in at least one instance, the yuk-person REWROTE the "review" OVER the cover sticker. It is with great relish that I take my eraser and remove all the ones i can.

I've asked my library to get those "mark of the reader" slips and just let people deface that instead of our books (the library had a ridiculously stringent weeding policy and reader marks like that are just nails in an otherwise perfectly good book's coffin), but nope. That would be sanctioning it. -_-
Jan. 29th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC)
So far I've found a "review" in only one book (it said "Very Good") but I'm sure there are more out there. Most of mine also write them on the stickers we put on the front end page of the book but there are a few who stray and mark the book itself. I do kind of like the "mark of the reader" slip; particularly for the markers who know each other and want to see what the others are reading.
Jan. 30th, 2014 02:26 pm (UTC)
We still have a few holdover folks who do this and one of the libraries in our consortium even used to put in a specific sticker you could initial in the back of the book. But given that we now are part of a lending consortium for about half the state, it really isn't practical. When the prolific authors publish new books and you're on the wait list, who knows which copy you'll get? We're also a pretty small library so our Adult Collection person doesn't add every Nora Roberts, James Patterson, etc, because we don't have space & funds and you can get it through ILL. Some keep lists, some bitch about it, some crack jokes about needing to check out so many because they've probably read half of them before, and some are computer savvy enough to learn to turn on the online account tracking (patron viewable ONLY) for what you've read.
Jan. 31st, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC)
A patron at one of our branches marks DVDs viewed by putting a little red dot on the library label inside the case. I take pleasure in changing out those labels every time I see a little red dot on them.

Edited at 2014-01-31 04:24 pm (UTC)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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the fuck
The Society for Librarians* Who Say "Motherfucker"
For all of those times when the gatekeepers of the world's knowledge are called upon, in their professional capacity, to use the word "motherfucker." Or at least to seriously consider it.

*Open to librarians; library associates, specialists, technicians, and paraprofessionals of all kinds; library school students; library aides and volunteers; and all of those who love libraries, or even just love a particular librarian. Welcome.

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