Every year the library circulates hundreds of thousands of books. In addition to circulating books, patrons use thousands of books in the library that are not checked out. Usually, the books return to us in about the same condition they were in before they were used.

Sometimes though accidents happen – a cup of coffee spills, pets behave badly, there is a sudden downpour leaving you and all your belongings soaked, a science experiment goes awry and something explodes all over your books, you need to use the book to defend yourself against a marauding band of ninjas. We understand; life happens. When books come back to Circulation in less than ideal condition they become, as we around the library affectionately call them, “Wounded Books.”

These wounded books are put through an evaluation process to determine the best course of action for their future life. Each book that ends up in the wounded book workflow is evaluated by its respective subject librarian who determines if it should be replaced, rebound, digitized, returned to the stacks, or withdrawn from the collection. We process over 500 wounded books annually. You might run into these books from time to time doing a catalog search. If you have ever wondered what “replacement review” means in the catalog, those are our wounded books.

Unfortunately sometimes we find material that has been deliberately damaged. We recently found these four books in the stacks. Each book had its content cut out. This was an intentional act by someone. Regrettably this is not the first time this has happened to a library book. Each year we find journal articles that have been removed from bound volumes or images that have been cut from art books.

We really want everyone to use the books, journals, DVDs, maps, and other library materials – after all that is why we buy them and add them to the collection. However, it is important to remember that the library is here to serve a large community, so if you destroy a book, it will no longer be available for others to use. As sturdy and seemingly indestructible as a book may appear, it will still never be able to stand up to deliberate misuse. So be gentle with the material and before you consider deliberately destroying something, come talk to us, and let us try to help you find a better way to use the content.

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