During a lecture on twentieth-century theology when I was an undergraduate, the lecturer told us that in the departmental library upstairs there was a copy of a book by twentieth-century-theologian-A with annotations by twentieth-century-theologian-B in which you can track B building an argument with A, a developed version of which B later published. It says a lot about my level of interest in/ability to comprehend much twentieth-century theology that I can’t remember who A and B were.
There are good reasons why you’re not supposed to write in library books – it is a form of vandalism after all, and other people’s scribbles can be very distracting. On the other hand, marginalia by thinker X can be really helpful for understanding their ideas – several books owned by Blake contain his annotations which I frequently find useful. That doesn’t really excuse twentieth-century-theologian-B — if he was going to scribble in the book, he should have bought his own copy – but the book would now probably merit being given Special Collections status, and I’d be willing to bet that there are other library books out there like that.
From time to time, I stumble upon something interesting, amusing or curious in a library book (not to mention the occasional suspicious stain, or familiar handwriting – I’ll name no names), and I’ve decided to start collecting them and sharing them here.
Disclaimer: I am not aware that I am breaching any library or copyright rules by doing this. I will happily remove anything posted in this category upon request.