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The Purloined Book


Reformers have admonished, "You are the ones who are really suffering from this," so many times that the aphorism has lost much of its virility. But perhaps it still be applied to a case which it fits so well: the extent of book stealing and mutilation in Lamont Library.

The situation now, according to the director of Lamont, is considerably worse than it was last term. Students in several courses have found their required reading shelves completely denuded; others have dipped into books and newspaper volumes only to note that vital pages and items have been torn from their moorings.

Some of the culprits have been victimized by their cagerness to gain the advantage of their fellows. The College has severed the connections of several students who were found with Lamont books illegally in their possession. The Library has an claborate method of tracking down offenders, which includes watching term papers for references to purloined clippings, and searching closely for bulges as students leave the building.

If there is no reduction in thievery soon, the Library will have to consider preventive, as well as punitive, action. This would include herding many of the shelf books behind the closed reserve desk, and making students show their Bursar's Cards before they could sign out any of the volumes.

Putting these measures into effect would mean: 1) hundreds of student-hours spent waiting in line to take out books; 2) hundreds of dollars spent on salaries for check-out clerks instead of new books; 3) an admission that the system offering free access to the stacks is a failure.

These three would all hurt. They would hurt the value of the Library to undergraduates, and they would hurt its reputation as one of the most liberally-run college libraries in the country. They are undesirable measures, and they should be made unnecessary as soon as possible.

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