Marginalia: Writing in Books

When you search the library catalog and find a title there is a new link to “Card Catalog Image”. Clicking on this link brings you to a yellowed old catalog card for that title (A note says: “This service is somewhat experimental and is here as a novelty”). You are offered the opportunity to add your marginalia to the catalog card. I larded one of my favorite recent reads, Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, with remarks. Years ago the library used to stick a Reader’s Comment sheet in the front of fiction titles, with room for brief comments from six to eight patrons.

The library has two books by H. J. Jackson on marginalia:
Romantic Readers: the Evidence of Marginalia and
Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books

Nicholas Basbanes, who has written numerous books on books and reading, has a little about marginalia in Every Book Its Reader: the Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World.

My wife has a copy of one of her grandfather’s college textbooks in which his roommate, Reginald Marsh, had drawn a variety of sketches.

(please note: the library definitely discourages writing in library materials)


I wish the library had a little spot for patrons to communicate with each other within the book - even a pocket in the back for a notecard or bookmark would be enough. (Or just leave your bookmark in the book and hope it survives through to the next reader!)