Saturday 1 October 2011

Library Rules Rules Rules

Return your book or face the consequences
Bookplates explaining the lending rules for a library are perhaps amongst the most common ex libris to be found in used books.  I used to care very little for these reminders and felt they were only placed in books so their crabby lenders could continue their nagging even after I'd left the library.  Over time, however, I've come to appreciate them as a collectible bookplate especially as they can in some cases actually tell you a lot about how a particular library may have functioned.

Most lending bookplates give you the basics - library hours of operation, the maximum books one is allowed to borrow at any time as well as the maximum time you can have them for, fines for overdue returns, plus the consequences of any book "injury".  All good things to know especially if you're a hoarder or was thinking about using your borrowed books as drink coasters or frisbees (I have seen students do both).

Though not very pictorially pleasing, library rules bookplates can become an interesting sub genre to pursue.  I've made a list of all the known public lending libraries that have existed in my local area over the past century, and needless to say acquiring a bookplate from each of these will be no small task.  The good news is, however, if you're just after the bookplate you can always buy the cheapest book in the pile.  As well, most public libraries are always selling books culled from their collection to raise money for new acquisitions, so a casual tour of the local branches will usually result in some good finds.  Below are some pics of a few others I have recently come across.

The old Canadian Army Library
A nicely designed bookplate

The Kingston Public Library welcomed suggestions for new books.

A rather common sense reminder from the base librarian

The quality of Canadian library rules bookplates varies widely from period to period, and I've come across everything from copperplate printings to xeroxed photocopies.  Another thing I've noticed is that the designers never seemed to have identified themselves, not even with buried or hidden initials.  Perhaps they weren't considered proper  miniature art as other library bookplates were.  Nevertheless, they are an important part of Canadian library history, and I look forward to tracking down more of these in the future.

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