Library Rules

2016-10-20-14-20_page_2Luther, Martin, 1483-1546. Der achte Teil vnd letzte aller Bücher vnd Schrifften des thewren seligen Mans Gottes. Gedruckt zu Ihena : Durch Christian Rödingers Erben, 1558.
BR331 .A2 1558

The practice of chaining books in libraries began in the Middle Ages but was typically only used on the more valuable books in a collection. It was common for books to be chained by a ringlet at the cover or corner because a chain added to the spine could damage the book as it was taken off the shelf. The book was shelved with the spine facing away from the reader so that each volume could be removed and opened without needing to be turned around, hence avoiding tangling its chain. The librarian would use a key to remove the book from the chain.  This example of a chained binding is found on a 1558 Jena [Germany] edition of Martin Luther’s works. The work is bound in contemporary blind tooled paneled pigskin over wooden boards with clasps and a chain made of seven figure –8 links still present.

2016-10-11-16-19_page_1Index librorum prohibitorum. Matriti : Ex calcographia Emmanuelis Fernandez …, MDCCXLVII [1747]
Lea, S-31.4.10-11

In order to prevent the moral corruption of the Catholic faithful by exposure to heretical, immoral or obscene ideas, the Index librorum prohibitorum was first issued in 1559 by the Catholic Church under the authority of Pope Paul IV. The Index included an official list of prohibited publications as well as those works which could only be read in authorized versions (Index expurgatorius). Subsequent additions and revisions to the list were issued by various popes until it was officially abolished by the Vatican in 1966. The list of censored titles condemned by the Spanish Inquisition was not identical to the works prohibited under the Roman Inquisition. In this 1747 Madrid edition of the Index, the Spanish Grand Inquisitor Francisco Pérez de Prado y Cuesta (1677–1755), in consultation with Jesuits, added an appendix entitled “Cathalogo de los libros jansenistas…” … featuring a list of prohibited works deemed favorable to Jansenism.

2016-10-11-14-18_page_03Mercedes, a story of Mexico / by Sarah Hale, 1895
Caroline F. Schimmel Fiction Collection of Women in the American Wilderness,  Schimmel Fiction 1988

This volume was selected for its check-out card pocket containing the rules for the Clifton Springs Sanitarium Library. Located in Clifton Springs, New York (about halfway between Buffalo and Syracuse), the Sanitarium was home to the Clifton Springs Water Cure promoted by Dr. Henry Foster.  What we like about these rules is that the loan time changed from two weeks to one week.  Were the cures so effective that people were only around for one week?  Were the cures so effective that people thronged to the Clifton Springs Sanitarium (and obviously also to the library), making the demand for the books in their library exceed their number?  Or were the cures so ineffective that they kept losing their patients within the two week time frame?

2016-10-11-14-18_page_06Handbook of the Library of the University of Pennsylvania, 1927
from the University Archives, UPF 8.51:0070

In this, the earliest Penn Libraries handbook that we are showing, the Library Staff clearly gave a lot of thought to why they were imposing rules:  “Experience has shown that all rules are necessary to protect the interests of all users of the Library.  But every unnecessary regulation is so much “red tape,” and cannot be justified.  Before condemning a restriction, however, it is but fair to consider the matter at issue impersonally, from the standpoint of the greatest good to the greatest number.”  Most of the rules they apparently decided were not “red tape” seem fairly reasonable:  speaking in low tones, no smoking, and no willfully damaging material.  Then, we get a little more red tape-y:  “Even well-bred people are often thoughtless.  For this reason it may be pardonable to refer to the fact that students are not expected to eat in the reading rooms, to wear their hats, to appear in their shirt sleeves, to tear waste paper into minute shreds, to place their feet upon the furniture, to sit on the tables, or to show a want of respect or consideration in other ways for the august company in which they find themselves.”  Was it common practice for young academics to tear their waste paper into minute shreds?????  Finally, users of the Penn Libraries are instructed to “Tread softly. Speak gently. Behave not thyself unseemly.”

2016-10-11-14-18_page_09Evening Bulletin clippings regarding Penn Libraries, 1957 April 3-4
from the University Archives, UPF 8.51:0070

In 1957, the University of Pennsylvania was considering closing the shelves of its libraries to undergraduates because so many of the books were being mutilated.  Unlike many urban universities, Penn had (and still does have) open stacks allowing students to page their own books.  Librarians stated that their examination of books showed “examples of mutilation includ[ing] pages ripped from the Encyclopedia Britannica, margin notes scribbled in ink and, in one case, the manuscript of a thesis stolen with only it covers left on the shelf.”  One of the worst crimes appears to have been that most of the margin notes were “scurrilous and silly but the authors of them seem to think they are being smart.” Who knows why the stacks were not closed to students, but open stacks still make Van Pelt Library a special place today.

2016-10-20-09-56_page_1Handbook of the Library of the University of Pennsylvania, Charles Patterson Van Pelt Library, 1966-1967

In the “Random Hints” section of this handbook, we find that “smoking is permitted in almost all areas of the Van Pelt building, except for book stacks, the Public Catalogue area, certain other marked areas for the use of non-smokers, and the Rare Book Reading Room,” (Whew!).  1966 appears to have beeen the year to slacken rules. Before then, “a rule of the University prohibited women dressed in slacks, shorts, or other inappropriate costumes from entering campus public buildings, of which the Library is one.” In 1966, women were allowed to wear anything they wanted … except “short shorts.”  Requests not to mutilate, annotate, underline, or otherwise damage the Library’s copies can be found throughout the random hints.  The passionate writer warns that not following these requests might result in “inarticulate rage.”

2016-10-11-14-18_page_02Guide to the Medical Library of the University of Pennsylvania, 1972

The rules in this booklet are found in the section titled “Do’s and Don’ts,” and along with the standard rules about not bringing food and beverages into the library and only smoking on the main floor, this one adds a new little gem: “DO NOT tie up the Library phones or the PA system with personal or non-professional calls.”  We love the idea of so many students making personal announcements on the PA system that such an inclusion in the rules was necessary.

2016-10-20-09-56_page_2University of Pennsylvania Library Guide, 1975

By 1975, the Penn Libraries apparently felt the need to explain just WHY they were not permitting food and drink and smoking throughout the Library.  “Because they tend to attract vermin and silverfish which damage the book collections, food and beverages are permitted only in the Snack Area and in the Klein Lounge on the first floor of Dietrich.  Smoking is prohibited in the main stacks because of fire regulations.” Don’t worry, you could still smoke nearly everywhere else … unless “specific limitations” were posted.  We can only hope that the Rare Book Reading Room had these “specific limitations!”

2016-10-11-14-18_page_04ALA Filing Rules / by the American Library Association, 1980.

Rules for cataloging books have always required a meticulous eye for detail–so much so that sometimes the rules can make the eyes cross or swim.  Here we have rules for “Subarrangement of Identical Access Points,” as well as the beginnings of “Subarrangment of Added Entry Access Points.”  This is heady stuff.

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