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To the annoyance of students in the social sciences and at a considerable cost to the University, books are partly destroyed every year by boys who hold to the tradition of marking them up. The librarians have been resigned to the situation which, in spite of all efforts, they feel, would continue to exist as long as Harvard had libraries. Without attempting active opposition to the evil, the authorities have given up hope of a better day.
The present state of affairs in Boylston is truly a desultory one, as all parties, agree, including the deskmen, one of whom wonderingly remarked, " . . . . But the things they write in the books!" And yet authorities sit passively by, spending extra money on replacement of reading matter while dullards in marking up pages often obliterate words and letters to change the author's meaning. Though every precaution is taken to prevent the stealing of books, the University passively allows them to be destroyed.
It would not be difficult for the desk clerks to inspect the margins of the pages of each book when it is returned, as this would merely involved a rapid thumbing of the pages to see if any ink or pencil had been applied to the text by amateur artists or writers. This would make it much easier to apprehend the criminal, and this systematic check in itself would deter youthful vandals from their own desires to destroy University property.
Most cases of book--scribbling are as shameful as they are easy to prevent. With enforced laws, only fools would dare to continue such a practice. "The sooner Boylston Hall can break away from its lethargy and acceptance of such evils, the better it will be for the condition of the books themselves, and the pleasure of all who have to read them.
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