Study Aids Still Sell Despite Controversy
Villanova University's bookstore recently banned Cliffs Notes--the slim yellow and black-covered books that condense lengthy literary works into short plot synopses.
Harvard Square's Store 24 has followed suit, but Harvard's libraries and its official bookstore, the Harvard Coop, are still carrying the books.
Scott C. Montgomery, director of the Coop, said the store provides Cliffs Notes as a customer service.
"I've been at some schools where the school and the faculty have recommended them," he said, citing Brandeis University as an example.
Montgomery also said he believes that even if the Coop did not sell the books, students would find other means of acquiring them.
"They sell Cliffs Notes in many places," Montgomery said. "If we don't carry them, the students will go someplace else."
Christy's Market, a convenience store in Harvard Square, currently has one of the largest collections of Cliffs Notes in Harvard Square.
A clerk at the store, who did not want to be named, said that on most nights a few students stop by the store looking for the books.
The Harvard Book Store carries Monarch Notes, the red and white alternative to Cliffs Notes. Some of the booksellers at the store actually said they were in favor of providing such books to students.
"Having been at a university, I know the workload, and if you can't keep up, you cheat," said bookseller David L. Kessler. "I would prefer that students do without them, but sometimes they provide interesting insights. If you actually learn from the Cliffs Notes, that's not cheating."
However, sales representatives at Store 24 disagree.
"We didn't approve of Harvard kids using the Cliffs Notes instead of reading the book," said Martin O. Devereaux, a senior customer sales representative at the store.
Lamont Library also provides synopses of great works, under the name of Masterplots. This collection, which condenses many classic novels into brief two-to-three page synopses, is a crunch-time godsend for many students.
A woman, who asked to be identified as a scholar in the library, agreed that more students should take advantage of them.
"There are scholars who want to place the novels they're studying in a historical context. Some people use them because they haven't read the books but others of us use them to solidify our understanding of a However, she does not believe many Harvard students use Masterplots as anything more than a supplementary tool. She said that because of the high intensity level of Harvard discussions, "you couldn't pass as a knowledgeable reader just by reading Masterplots.
However, she does not believe many Harvard students use Masterplots as anything more than a supplementary tool.
She said that because of the high intensity level of Harvard discussions, "you couldn't pass as a knowledgeable reader just by reading Masterplots.