Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rant: Defacing Public Property

I'm all for folks letting me know if I've posted something (like a story on one of my websites) that contains typos and grammatical errors and such. I am totally open for that and welcome it. I know I miss things. And I know there are people out there that have the editorial desire that bursts to come out in them. I get that too. My wife can't read our local newspaper without catching all the grammer errors that seem to creep in.

What I don't like, though, if folks who do this kind of editting on library books.

As I've mentioned, I've been reading the Robert B. Parker books pretty regularly this year and all of them have been from the library (why buy the cow when the milk is there for free?). In the past six months I've probably read more library books then I had read in the past 12 years combined. But what annoys me - and this has happened now on at least four of the 26 or so books I've checked out - is that I'll be reading along and there are striked out words, with corrections above it or in the margins or whatever.

First off, I'm not talking spelling errors. These appear to be grammer corrections. But what's worse is that they are often in character dialogue. Hello! The author decided that the character speaking may not speak correct English and therefore this improper use of grammer is a reflection on the character. It is how the character talks. Who are you to make a correction of that? Are you the author? No, I don't think so! So what gives you the right to distract the reader with your pencil or pen marks with correction? The answer is no one did.

Second, this is a library book so I expect people who check them out can read. What is taped into the front cover of every book in the library (it has been in every book I've checked out so far)? Just this:

NOTICE: According to the North Carolina General Statutes, any person who writes upon materials belonging to a public library can be found guilty of either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the material (GS 14-398). PLEASE do not deface our books by writing in them!

See? The NC State is so concerned about this that they take the time to have these noticed taped into the front cover of every library book. Maybe I live in a state of rampant write-in-book criminals. Don't know. But I've hit four books that have had writing in them, and it clearly isn't the same hand (one could assume it might be - someone reading the same author as I am doing).


Thanks for letting me get that one off my chest.


WillSuffice said...

I borrow heavily from the Detroit Public Library, where I find no such defacing or notices prohibiting it. Someone did cut out a lesbian love scene from the Camelot 3000 graphic novel.

Martin Maenza said...

I guess the south is much stricter than Detroit. And, damn, I can't believe someone would deface that gorgeous Brian Bolland artwork.