Books and space

Only the second time the book has been issued, and it’s already full of annotations – lines, highlights, smiley faces, a sticker…  Someone has been hard at work in the poetry collections of the university library: the hand recurs recognisably through books of poems in the main shelves here.  Smiley face, frown, tick, tic.

(Its reach doesn’t appear to have extended yet to the ‘stackroom’, in the library’s basement, where less-frequented books are compressed into shelves which have to be wound apart, one set of shelves accessible at any one time.  Level 0 is a way station for books en route to ‘remote access storage’ and maybe even ‘de-accessioning’ – as if, having come into consciousness and spent some time in the light, they are now slipping back into the collective unconscious again.)

Annotating a poetry book in a public collection is obviously inconsiderate, but defacing the page also intrudes into the space of the poem – a hostile act, even under the guise of a tick, a smiley face…