Library Markings

Books in libraries are often handled much more that those held in private hands. As a result, libraries have developed ways of protecting and repairing materials for customer usage. Many of the alterations libraries make are damaging to the book, and most books so modified are no long considered collectible. Books from libraries should be described as such when buying and selling them.

One common description is to denote former library books as ex-library with the usual markings. Books so described can be expected to have one or more of the following defacements.

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Books with Dust Jackets

Books with dust jackets are often prepared for use by adding a label to the spine, placing the dust jacket inside a clear protective cover and taping the dust jacket directly to the book. Over time, the tape can leave unsightly brown stains on adjacent end papers and deface the covers as well.

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Due date slips and card pockets

If these have been removed, they may leave behind glue stains or torn and abraded paper.

Ownership stamps

These will usually appear multiple times in a book. They may be found on the title page, text pages, upper or lower page edges, or the inside covers.

Cataloging Information

Notes and codes used for cataloging the book.

Inventory control strips and withdrawn stamps

Books that are obviously from a library collection but that do not bear a withdrawn stamp should be purchased with caution, since they may not have been actually deacquisitioned.

At times, the library a book comes from might be noteworthy.

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United States copyright law directs that publishers are to provide two copies of each title to the Library of Congress. At times the Library has sold some of their duplicate copies. This ownership label is affixed to the front board of an 1885 title

During times of war, there have been efforts to provide books to military service members. This WW I-era bookplate appears at the front of a rather worn book of Tennyson poetry with a 1900 copyright date.

In addition to these markings, libraries will sometimes bind or rebind books. These are described on our page about Library Bindings.

Initial text and images courtesy of Alice Voith of My Wings Books.

Please send comments to us at resources@ioba.org. Last updated May 17, 2016.