learning architecture


a PhD in live projects and architectural education

PhD rant: people who make stupid notes and marks in library books

Forgive me, but it’s time to vent a little. This drives me absolutely friggin’ nuts…


If you don’t own the book, don’t mark the book. Don’t underline. Don’t circle. Don’t note. If it belongs to a library, it belongs to all of us. We’ve gone to the trouble of travelling to the library, joining the library and searching the library for this book because we want to read the what the author(s) have written. Not to absorb the mindless, inconsiderate demonstration of your stupidity and selfishness.


And for Christ’s sake, don’t go to the trouble of marking the following quote (from Experiential Learning, Kolb 1984)

The integrated person is person as subject. In contrast, the adaptive person is person as object.

…with such a dumb, inane and irrelevantly personal observation as…

But if you have Aspergers it is more difficult because the world is experienced in different dimensionality.

Likewise, the following, from John Dewey’s Experience & Education (1938)….


I despair. It’s because of lazy goons like these that I feel compelled to spend too much money buying pristine books online. Or maybe I’m just being really picky. Having now spent several months using the libraries of Queens University Belfast, Glasgow University, the University of Strathclyde, the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Sheffield, I can report (somewhat unfairly) that Scottish university library books are the worst affected by this vandalism. In the same way I have come to detest the general lack of respect Glaswegians show for their city (unbelievable littering, fly-tipping etc in otherwise beautiful city streets) I have come to expect – and as yet have not been often disappointed – this kind of unwanted notation in books from Scottish libraries.

What is it about Scottish students? Or what is perhaps about Scottish libraries and their books that encourages this behaviour? Or more importantly, what is it about me that sparks off these hopelessly unscientific jingoism? Answers on a postcard, please. And if it’s any consolation, I feel a lot better now.


Filed under: blog, , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. English students are just as bad, or at least the ones who study where I work are. Underlinings, notes and random scribblings adorn many of our books, and often in ink – at least pencilled annotations can be rubbed out! Even if their thoughts on the book are stunning, original or groundbreaking, they don’t belong there, as they can be a distraction. It’s just rude is what it is. If you really need to annotate, then (as you say), buy your own, or at least copy the pages to be scribbled on. Grrr.

  2. David Lodge tackles this subject briefly in his latest novel Deaf Sentence. For a minute I though you were the lead character Desmond Bates scolding the thoughtless PhD student Alex!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: