Vandalism Targets Reserve Books in Library

Richard Kontas

Recent vandalism has struck the college library, targeting the reserve books and affecting those students who cannot afford to lose this valuable asset.

This selection of assigned textbooks is updated every semester and represents over two-thirds of all textbooks being used on campus at any given time. They may be checked out for two-hour increments and used in the library only.

This is a service for students who cannot afford to buy the textbooks or it could be a source for textbooks that arrive late in the bookstore.

“People are tearing out numerous pages, often complete chapters,” said Sarah Williams, a GCC library technician. “Previously the majority of books affected were math books, however this semester has seen it spread to business administration, philosophy, history, speech, biology and English books.”

Eight of the books have recently been found to have been vandalized.

Library Public Services Manager Russell Beckett, explained that “while the number of incidents seems like a small percentage of the overall volume circulated, the fact remains that these books are a valuable resource for the student body and [they] shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

There are a total of 350 books in the reserves and in Fall 2006 four book were vandalized. Last year, there was a total circulation of 35,000 and that would mean that if each book gets circulated 100 times per year, then the eight recently vandalized books are out of circulation; that is 800 times that the students will be unable to access that resource.

“Reasons reserve books are used primarily by students that cannot afford the high cost of textbooks,” Williams said. “Or those who may own the book but either didn’t bring it or simply forgot it.”

“I’ve used the reserve book section many times,” Pamela Bond, a part-time photography student said. “Although I’ve never come across missing pages or chapters, [I think] that would be really frustrating and [would] seem like such a waste.”

Alison Geller, a GCC alumna, agreed. “I’ve used them [reserve books], and it would be very annoying to discover vandalized books.”

In a worst-case scenario, the book is removed, but in some cases the solution is to add a note (“pages missing: 120-145”) on the cover, or to repair the book with copies of the missing pages.

“What students may not realize is the amount of work involved to get a reserve book on the shelves,” said Williams. “Each semester instructors list all textbooks required, then the information goes to the library staff who compile a master list.”

“This is cross-checked against the current collection and books not in stock get reported back to the division chairs, who will then try to supply a copy of the text.”
This has evolved into a system that consistently provides students with a valuable resource.

“If the library does not have a particular book ask the instructor,” Williams said. “This can be a vital step in the process. [Also] students that may have old textbooks at home, consider donating them to the library.”

According to Glendale College policy Standards of Conduct: “Theft or damage to property of the college (including cutting, tearing, or defacing magazines and books) is a violation that may lead to probation, suspension or dismissal from the college in addition to possible legal prosecution under California Education Code, section 19910.”