~ McKinney Hubbard
A quandary of ideals is presented to anyone who loves books: such a bibliophile collects and cares for their library, but also wants to share their love of reading with their less literary-minded friends. Unfortunately to these less literary-minded friends, books are just wads of paper and not prized first editions.
The problem is this: that borrowed books are usually returned in worse condition than when they were first lent out. (Or, they’re returned in exactly the same condition, but then you find out the borrower didn’t ever get around to reading the book, which is a tragedy meriting its own blog post entirely.) Personally, the few books I have loaned out to people have only been returned slightly scathed: the hardcovers a little dinged up on the corner, maybe the gilt edging a little worn, but otherwise almost as good as when I lent them.
Not everyone, however, has been as lucky as I: Edwin Arlington Robinson once called friends “people who borrow my books and set wet glasses on them.” As a public library employee, I can tell you that hard as it is to believe that someone would commit such a travesty, but it’s true. Coffee rings are the most common offenders, but thanks to library-regulation mylar (you know, that plastic layer over the dust jacket?) these rings are for the most part temporary. For some reason people feel the need to eat and read at the same time. I have found spaghetti stains INSIDE books. Ugh. And other things whose origins I dared not speculate upon.