Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Defacing Library Property Is A Crime
So even the best-edited books have the occasional typo or misprint. And when you get into the quickly-produced-mystery section, which I do, the misprints become more frequent and glaring.
I've been going to the Glendale library for my mystery stories lately, because of their fine selection of 1950-75 mystery stories. And I check these books out and I read along and all of a sudden I come across a part of the page where there was a misprint.
Now there is not. Because somebody has written over the misprint in pen.
Usually it's when the wrong character name is given in a sentence. Two people in the book have similar names, and the edition has the wrong name, and somebody has corrected it.
There are a lot of questions here. Is this all the work of one person, or are there a bunch of would-be editors out there, reading with their pens at the ready? Is this something one of the librarians is doing? I favor the idea of the lone madman, working his way through the library collection. Right now he's polishing off the sci-fi.
The main question is whether whoever is doing it actually thinks it's helpful or if they just can't stand to see a mistake. Because it's not helpful (if you were wondering). It's jarring and annoying to read the wrong name, but it's pretty easy to sort out, and it's equally jarring and annoying to come across the pen marks, given that the writing looks nothing like the surrounding typeface and you have to take a minute to figure out what's going on.
It's funny, this insistence on correcting the book. I've never done that, myself, but there was a book that I loved when I was a kid, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, and I didn't like the description of one of the character's appearance -- I think, shamefully, that I didn't think she was pretty enough -- so I decided that I would go through and change her description in the book. I started off with my whiteout and my pen, and then got bored.
I guess, in one way or another, we all want to make the world a better place. Or at least a place more suited to our desires.