Even More Scoundrels, Knaves and Varlets. *

Posted by jlubans on October 08, 2013

The Case of the Presumptuous Profs.
A University of Colorado business school professor came to my attention for failing to return a large number of bound business and economics journals, now long overdue.
I asked the business school dean to intervene and the periodicals were returned, but they did not look right – they bulged - and the bindings were sprung. It turned out that the professor and a faculty colleague had glued in their own page headers (imagine peel-off address labels) on every page of several dozen articles – hundreds of pages - and they had, with White-Out, eradicated the original page numbers and other header information.
These articles were then photographed and put into a course pack/anthology for sale to their students and others. Apart from mutilating library materials – the university’s shared resource - their publishing someone else’s work for commercial gain - without permission from the copyright holder – crassly violated the “fair use” copyright provision. They exposed themselves and the University to a major statutory fine. When confronted with their handiwork, the two saw nothing wrong with what they had done – they thought themselves “self-starters” - but did agree to pay a fine to restore the journal pages. The Business Dean took little interest. Let’s hope these two were not teaching business ethics!

20131008-book thieves pic.jpg
Caption: University of Waterloo, Davis Library, Security Gates
The Case of the Pilfering Professor.
One of the ways to beat a library’s security system was to hold the book above your head as you passed through the security gates. The gates did not detect much of anything above shoulder height. Most thieves don’t take this conspicuous approach, preferring something less obvious. A prestigious English professor at Duke University, must have been thinking, “Who would dare question ME!” as he made his high-handed way through the security gate. Our circulation librarian observed him hoisting a leather-bound rarity on high, heading out the door. When called to explain himself, the prof claimed he was borrowing the book to go to his office for a quick browse and, of course, was going to return it within the hour! He meant no harm, etc. Our circulation librarian, outraged, did not see it that way – he had reason to suspect the prof of building a collection of stolen books. We took the matter to his department head for some form of censure. The department head did manage to extract an apology and a promise to never do it again, but that was the extent of the discipline. Academic justice. Had he been caught lifting a pair of shoes at the mall he’d be taking a ride, handcuffed, in a black and white.

*This essay follows these previous posts:
Book Thieves and Other Library Scoundrels.”
More Scoundrels, Knaves and Varlets.”

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: University of New Hampshire.

Copyright John Lubans 2013

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