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Like mice carrying away the stuffing of a mattress to build their nests, local seavengers are hollowing out the insides of the University library system. These pilferers of books, monographs, and examination papers are not bad men. They have just fallen victims to the idea that the man who uses a book has the right to own it. It's probably that these are times of social change for moral standards to be so out of whack, but the University cannot subscribe to this hazily defined philosophy of self-interest.
Perfectly nice guys who would never steal automobiles, kidnap small children, or rob Brink's have been caught between the jagged edges of this difference of opinion. If they had paused to ruminate before filching books from Lamont or Widener shelves, it might have occurred to them that the University must take more than a dim view of this sort of activity. It's not just the attrition that threatens to topple the University Library from its position among the most book filled in the world; officials in University Hall must fight encroachment of that doubtful ethic underlying book appropriation for home use.
To bring the breath of honesty back to the fetid stacks, the University has suspended a number of students recently. The Deans do so reluctantly and only after consideration of each individual case, hoping that suspension will do more good than harm. It's an expensive price to pay for a book. But if the incidence of suspensions continues at the present rate, soon everyone will know a friend who has left the College for this minor crime, and perhaps both the books and the miscreants will stop disappearing.
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