Oxford

Oxford University Marginalia group uncovers student scribbles

Defaced book in English Faculty Library, University of Oxford Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption The person that took the picture of this defacement dryly observed its "incredible wit"

The founder of a Facebook group where university students post pictures of doodles found in library books does not "condone besmirching" the texts.

Oxford University Marginalia features examples of scribbled commentary by frustrated scholars.

Creator April Pierce said the group, which has 6,000 members, was for people "outraged and fascinated" by the notes.

Ms Pierce said: "It's probably not the most enlightened form of literature but it's entertaining and people enjoy it."

She said the collected examples of marginalia - a term used for comments made in the margins of books - were "guttural or visceral reactions to a reading experience".

Instances range from scholars scrawling song lyrics onto the pages, while others make crude jokes or describe certain passages or works as awful or tiresome.

One student simply writes: "I hate these clever Oxford people."

A spokesman for the Bodleian Libraries - the university's central libraries - said they "do not condone the defacing of library material".

He added: "All students of the University of Oxford who would like access to the Bodleian Libraries sign a declaration which is an agreement 'not to remove from the library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it'.

"They also 'promise to obey all rules of the library'."

Although "the majority" of readers are respectful of the rules, he said those who breach regulations "can have library access suspended".

Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption Ms Pierce admitted she "enjoyed almost the criminal aspect" of viewing the notes, such as this one scrawled in Shakespeare's Pericles by one hungry sage
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption "Sometime it's just exasperation. A lot of the marginalia is frustrated scholars in a library who want someone to hear their outbursts... it's almost as if they are talking to an invisible audience through their reading material," Ms Pierce said
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption One reader threatens violence on another because of this "maimed" book
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption Ms Pierce suggested some marginalia was intended to "reach out to other people"
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption Most notes are in pencil - the use of biro here is angrily lambasted
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption Ms Pierce said many of the written outbursts were "guttural or visceral"
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption A frustrated lyric from The Smiths' Bigmouth Strikes Again made it into this text book
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption Some notes serve as powerful warnings to subsequent readers
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption Huge sections of the library books are often underlined by users
Image copyright Oxford University Marginalia
Image caption "I hate these clever Oxford people," a clever Oxford person writes
Image copyright Google
Image caption Books at the university's English Faculty have been defaced with comments
Image caption April Pierce's Facebook group has now reached 6,000 members

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