Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Large Print Hobo Glyphs

There is a certain subset of library patron that apparently cannot remember which books they read, compelling them instead to make a mark inside the front cover of the book to identify where they have been. Like a brand, or one of the hobo glyphs that showed up on gateposts and in boxcars around the country during the Depression. Most of these books are in the large print collection, meaning they are mostly checked out by patrons of a certain age.

A lot of these symbols are a person's initials, but some people get downright artistic. I've seen pine trees, circles, triangles, things that look like cattle brands... Some even have a small stamp for this purpose.

The thing is, we have a floating collection, meaning books that are requested by our patrons come from other libraries and, once returned, stay on our shelves until they are requested by a patron from another branch. So if Joe Schmoe from the other side of the county checks out a book from his local branch, puts his mark in it, then Jane Doe requests it be brought to our branch, then the copy of the title Joe Schmoe read and marked is now halfway across the county. Perhaps, then, while Jane Doe is reading that copy, someone else from Joe Schmoe's library requests another copy from another branch, then it is returned there. There is now a copy of a book Joe Schmoe has read, but not the copy he has marked, meaning he might check out something he's already read. Quelle horreur!

Long story short, the library version of the hobo glyph is pointless. Better to invest in a little notebook and write down what you read.