LGBT Books At Harvard Vandalized
December 13, 2010 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Approximately 40 books dealing with LGBT issues were vandalized with what appeared to be urine in Lamont Library on the Harvard campus on November 24, according to a report filed Friday by the library security staff to the Harvard University Police Department. Something similar (minus the peepee) happen in San Francisco, where they took the books and made Art!
posted by Blake (69 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somebody was taking the piss?
posted by orthogonality at 11:16 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's my conservation nightmare.
posted by ikahime at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Banksy's sure gotten lazy.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


My mom owned a small bookstore in Maine for a while, and had lots of LGBT books on the shelves. Every once in a while, we'd find them with spines turned to the wall, or with bookmarks full of Bible quotes in them.
posted by rtha at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2010


I suppose on some level I always assumed being a librarian would mean I would not have to deal with urine, and perhaps I need to change my dream career.
posted by jenlovesponies at 11:27 AM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


What polite defacers they must have in Maine!
posted by blucevalo at 11:28 AM on December 13, 2010


Those books really tied the library together.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:28 AM on December 13, 2010 [30 favorites]


How many books not dealing with LGBT issues were vandalized? I assume zero, but it isn't specified.

Also, any news article that unironically says "defiled" is OK in my book.
posted by DU at 11:29 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]




Imagine for a moment this had happened to books about the Civil Rights movement. Somehow I suspect there would be less pee jokes.
posted by honeydew at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


Indeed, DU, it was zero. This person or people was very focused on being a jerk in a very specific way.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a huge fan of open stacks, this hurts everyone.
posted by drowsy at 11:34 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It doesn't actually say it's zero. (If anything, there's one quote that opens itself pretty wide to there being others. "There are 40 books on the same subject" vs "They are 40 books on the same subject"). I guess I can't expect a complete partitioning from a news article, though.
posted by DU at 11:35 AM on December 13, 2010


My mom owned a small bookstore in Maine for a while, and had lots of LGBT books on the shelves. Every once in a while, we'd find them with spines turned to the wall, or with bookmarks full of Bible quotes in them.

I hate this.

I also hate the people who go through bookstores and put the Bible in the Fiction section, or $DISLIKED POLITICIAN's memoir in the True Crime section. Dude, you're not Zorro, you're just a jerk annoying bookstore workers.

Imagine for a moment this had happened to books about the Civil Rights movement. Somehow I suspect there would be less pee jokes.

honeydew, I don't think anyone is mocking anybody but the thoughtless and hate-filled person who thought that peeing on books about LGBT folks and topics was a form of protest.

Many of us are LGBT and current or former librarians and current or former writers, you know.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:36 AM on December 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


A few years ago some dude idiot came into the (public) library I worked at and *demanded* that we remove all of Oscar Wilde's books from the shelves because his son had been reading one and he'd just found out Wilde was Teh Gay. He wouldn't listen to me, so the branch head came out and explained to him that this would not be happening for a variety of extremely valid reasons. Eventually, he left in a huff. A few days later we discovered that "someone" had ripped out sections of every Oscar Wilde book we had on the shelves.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:36 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It doesn't actually say it's zero.

Per my friend who works at Lamont, it was zero.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:36 AM on December 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Dear, that wasn't Gatorade that weird kid was carrying up there."
posted by fantodstic at 11:36 AM on December 13, 2010


I sort of assumed that the intersection of "librarian" and "dealing with urine" would involve either small kids or homeless people (where do you think they go on cold days?), and not, in fact, Harvard's Lamont Library. It's got a swipe card system, so random people can't just go in there.

Wow, what an unpleasant thing to do. It's not just a fuck-you to books about queer topics, but also to the library staff.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:37 AM on December 13, 2010


This is worse than the guy who draws Sharpie moustaches on all the cello-wrapped Taylor Swift albums at Starbucks, right?
posted by carsonb at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2010


George Segal's Gay Liberation sculpture was vandalized several times at Stanford University. Academia is not immune to bigotry and hatred.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. The gay goings-on in Lamont sure have done a 180 in recent years.
posted by thesmophoron at 11:44 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Imagine for a moment this had happened to books about the Civil Rights movement. Somehow I suspect there would be less pee jokes.

Enh, I think mocking our friend the homophobic urine wizard is pretty much the right reaction. He wanted to hurt people's feelings, but people are mostly just sort of snarky about it. Why? Because peeing on books is pathetic behavior.

The school will buy new books, and the homophobic urine wizard will continue to be pathetic.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


mrgrimm-- the sculpture at Stanford is accessible to anyone, as it is outside. Particularly it is easily accessible by drunk students, random community members, etc.

Whereas Lamont you need card access. You must be a Harvard student, staff, or affiliate in some official way. And you have to be sober enough to get in. This is premeditated in a way the vandalism at Stanford (a good portion of which took place decades ago) didn't have to be.

I do find this more creepy.
posted by nat at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crazy people go to college, too. Didn't we have a post just a few days ago about the Unabomber? It's unsurprising that someone with legitimate access to an important university library could also be a maestro of micturition.

I hope they keep the DNA on these books on record, and that the perp is caught, like, ten years later when he applies for a government job, or something really stupid and unlikely like that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:53 AM on December 13, 2010


I think the point of the FFP was to make lemonade. It is a action that address the crime with passion along with unique preservation methods.
posted by clavdivs at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2010


Whereas Lamont you need card access. You must be a Harvard student, staff, or affiliate in some official way. And you have to be sober enough to get in.

One of my friends who works in that library posted this, this morning. She pointed out that issue as well.

Because hate don't quit.
posted by yeloson at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]




'In her assemblage, Coming Out, a scarred volume with that title is surrounded by neatly assembled rows of razors and X-Acto knife blades arranged to look like pen quills. The title is a metaphor for the survival of gay culture itself, and her work is a powerful rebus for the adage that the pen is mightier than the sword.' (from first link)

see, (if) that sold and monies from sale were used to restore books, it still makes these acts of vandelism possible but it give rise to consciuosness (hic sp) which addresses the isssue in cultural form rather then mere law.
posted by clavdivs at 12:03 PM on December 13, 2010


I hope they keep the DNA on these books on record, and that the perp is caught, like, ten years later when he applies for a government job, or something really stupid and unlikely like that.

The scenario you're describing is a lot more disturbing than some weirdo pouring urine on books.
posted by brain_drain at 12:04 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Officer was informed an unknown individual urinated in a bottle and left in on a shelf. Another individual accidentally knocked the bottle over while attempting to dispose of it."

Oh. OK. Well, that makes perfect sense.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? Someone accidentally spilled a bottle of urine on a shelf of books about LGBT issues? And the whole library system has been in an uproar about it for weeks because, you know, looks like vandalism and the person who accidentally spilled the urine has just now come forward?

Worst. Episode. Of. I Love Lucy. Ever.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:14 PM on December 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


I mean, seriously, I myself used to work in said library system and I have a bunch of friends who are currently working there and everyone is a bit freaked out about it and this is just a very weird resolution.

If this is what happened, the person who accidently the pee is a jerk for not coming forward earlier. Let alone the person who left a pee bottle on a shelf in a library.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2010


Enh, I think mocking our friend the homophobic urine wizard is pretty much the right reaction.

Homophobic Urine Wizard should definitely be a new Klan title.
posted by Xezlec at 12:37 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


the person who accidently the pee

homophobe, i am disappoint
posted by Greg Nog at 12:38 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Moral of the story:
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incontinence.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:50 PM on December 13, 2010 [27 favorites]


As an academic librarian who has found pee bottles in the stacks, I am just relieved to hear that this is a problem that plagues Harvard's libraries, too.
posted by holyrood at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Zamboni I don't see your quote in the pdf you link to -- am I blind? Missing the joke?
posted by AwkwardPause at 1:18 PM on December 13, 2010


As an academic librarian who has found pee bottles in the stacks, I am just relieved to hear that this is a problem that plagues Harvard's libraries, too.

Wha- how- ... why?
posted by Leon at 1:23 PM on December 13, 2010


You know what the worst part of this story is? (I mean, now, that it's the spilling of a a far-too-focused studier's piss bottle and not, you know, a hate crime.)

The person who accidentally spilled the piss bottle was more than likely somebody who seems to have had a genuine interest in the LGBT books that ended up damaged.

"Come forward as the accidental piss bandit or continue to allow the campus community to think they have a urine-spreading homophobe on their hands" is not a decision that young gay MCMikeNamara would have wanted to make.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:28 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I suppose on some level I always assumed being a librarian would mean I would not have to deal with urine...

HA HA Ha hee hee. Oh, you idealistic kids. Isn't there some video with bad robot voices and poorly animated computer avatars that explains this?
posted by marxchivist at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


So are renegade pee bottles some sort of underappreciated element of book nerd culture*, or are people leaving Snapple travel urinals everywhere?

Maybe the abandoned pee-bottle phenomenon is like porn in the woods, something everyone has encountered, but didn't realize everyone else was encountering too.

*BOY I LIKE READING BOOKS SO INTENSELY THAT I CAN'T BE BOTHERED TO INTERRUPT MYSELF WITH SUCH TRIVIAL MATTERS AS BATHROOM BREAKS.
posted by dgaicun at 1:46 PM on December 13, 2010


I'm actually really looking forward to Harry Potter and the Homophobic Urine Wizard.

Although the book kinda stank.
posted by gc at 1:47 PM on December 13, 2010


Homophobic Urine Wizard should definitely be a new Klan title.

Just when you think Pollard has run out of new potential GBV song titles ...

(L)G(BT)BV! (L)G(BT)BV! (L)G(BT)BV!
posted by joe lisboa at 1:55 PM on December 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Zamboni I don't see your quote in the pdf you link to -- am I blind? Missing the joke?

Yep, now I am completely confused.

Was that a for-real police log entry that has now been removed? Because not finding it anywhere on the police logs, either for yesterday or for November 24 or any of the dates around there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:58 PM on December 13, 2010


For "yesterday" read "Friday" there. But also yesterday. And Saturday. And Thursday.

Jesus, I am surprised by the shenanigans that go down at Au Bon Pain. I knew there was a reason I never go there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:59 PM on December 13, 2010


And in other news, who knew there were so many dedicated "Christians" trolling the comments on the Crimson website? I mean, you'd think that they'd be happy enough that there's a big ol' Protestant church in the middle of the campus, but nooooooooooo.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:01 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because not finding it anywhere on the police logs, either for yesterday or for November 24 or any of the dates around there.

It's the Dec. 10th log, updated on the 13. Here. Top of the second page.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:05 PM on December 13, 2010


Thanks, mr_roboto!

Wow, that has to be completely awkward. Dying to hear what the Lamont scuttlebutt (no pun intended) on this is...
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2010


"Come forward as the accidental piss bandit or continue to allow the campus community to think they have a urine-spreading homophobe on their hands" is not a decision that young gay MCMikeNamara would have wanted to make.

Leaving an anonymous note saying "I accidently the pee, sorry"?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:14 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, mr_roboto. I initially pasted in the URL for the date of the reported crime, then looked at the article again - the report was made last Friday, not Nov 24. I checked that out, typed in the info from the annoyingly copy-protected PDF, and forgot to change the URL I pasted in before. Whoops!
posted by zamboni at 2:17 PM on December 13, 2010


I suppose on some level I always assumed being a librarian would mean I would not have to deal with urine...

Quite the contrary. In-between being a babysitter as a teenager and being a librarian was the time I did NOT have to deal with urine.
posted by jessamyn at 3:16 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is just to say

that I have spilled
the bottle of urine
all over
the library books

forgive me
it wasn't a hate crime
I was just clumsy
so clumsy

posted by Sidhedevil at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, home of a big damn library, used to (and, for all I know, still does) have a section of the main stacks called the Vault, where they'd keep books that would be likely to be stolen or vandalized if they were left out in the main body of the stacks. In addition to Mein Kampf and some hardcore erotica, the Vault also contained much of the LGBT collection of the University. While ostensibly preserving that part of the collection, it also had the effect of preventing someone from browsing that collection, as you'd have to request the book(s) from a library staff member after showing your ID, something that closeted or questioning students might be reluctant to do in days of yore. (There were some books on lesbian studies in the Women's Studies library, but that was a small room and you couldn't exactly browse in private.)

I wouldn't have even known about it if I hadn't happened to talk to someone in library school who'd found out about it himself, and was in the process of writing up a thesis about the collection's existence and segregation; he let me look at the shelf list.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:01 PM on December 13, 2010


I would like to go on record as saying that my favorite to Jessamyn's comment was because it made me laugh, not because I am pleased that she (or any librarian) would have to deal with urine.

Someone who has done both should make a list of similarities between librarian duties and tasks performed working at an adult video store/theater* but I'm afraid that list would be very depressing.

* Off the top of my limited-by-experience head, urine cleanup, respecting privacy, dealing with protests that seek to separate adults from their rights to consume what they please
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:02 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have never run into a bottle of urine at my library, but there are ... well, "reasons" isn't necessarily the best word.

During certain times of the semester, study carrells are hot property, and once you've scored one, you're not leaving it for any reason until you're finished. This is compounded by the fact that if you leave your gear behind, naively thinking that it will "hold your spot", you're likely to return from the bathroom to determine that somebody has stolen your stuff, and somebody else is now sitting in "your" carrell.
posted by djfiander at 4:05 PM on December 13, 2010


So, no vandalism, no hate crime, and card-carrying Harvard students/staff/faculty use bottles instead bathrooms? I don't recall seeing this in The Social Network. Deleted scene?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:38 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: In-between being a babysitter as a teenager and being a librarian was the time I did NOT have to deal with urine.
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on December 13, 2010


My mom owned a small bookstore in Maine for a while, and had lots of LGBT books on the shelves. Every once in a while, we'd find them with spines turned to the wall, or with bookmarks full of Bible quotes in them.

Well, when I am at a place that has Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or similar books for sale, I flip them upside down or turn them backward, so there. I got the side-eye from some old lady at Costco who caught me doing it once, but I just glared right back at her and finished the job, and so help me, I'll do it again.
posted by padraigin at 5:00 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, when I am at a place that has Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or similar books for sale, I flip them upside down or turn them backward, so there.

Wow, you're really sticking it to the establishment by inconveniencing minimum-wage workers!
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:21 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


After reading a couple other comments sections about this story on other sites (such as The Crimson), I'm glad to find an absence of "oh, but it's okay to put a crucifix in a jar of urine?" comments here.
It looks like we've got an authentic police report vs. a somewhat more recent news story saying the incident is still under investigation. Given the amount of attention this story is getting, I hope that part at least will be cleared up within a day or two.
As someone in a library-related field of work, this was not a nice story to wake up to. YOU DON'T FUCK WITH LIBRARY BOOKS, PEOPLE. (And if the bigotry angle holds up, that'll be even sadder.)
posted by uosuaq at 7:25 PM on December 13, 2010




Even money says the timeline goes a little like this:

1) Librarian in the stacks knocks over a bottle of pee, swears, gets it cleaned up.
2) Bottle of pee incident is duly reported to management.
3) At some point, probably when the conservation folks finish assessing the books, a police report is made. There may be a policy that vandalism over a certain amount triggers a mandatory report. Someone without knowledge of the initial circumstances, maybe HUPD, draws the inference "LGBT books soaked in pee = bias crime."
4) On further investigation, the bottle of pee story is discovered.
posted by zamboni at 7:46 PM on December 13, 2010


Thanks, zamboni. I guess we're down to one final question: who the hell pees in a bottle and doesn't put the cap back on?
posted by uosuaq at 8:48 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am just relieved to hear that this is a problem that plagues Harvard's libraries, too.

I see what you did there.
posted by formless at 8:49 PM on December 13, 2010


Short scene: handcuffs are being clamped on writes, red-faced cop says: "Urine big trouble, pal!"
posted by Twang at 11:23 PM on December 13, 2010


rtha writes "My mom owned a small bookstore in Maine for a while, and had lots of LGBT books on the shelves. Every once in a while, we'd find them with spines turned to the wall, or with bookmarks full of Bible quotes in them."

It's kind of passive aggressive but as protests go slipping counter point of view book marks into books is pretty mild; could even be fun.
posted by Mitheral at 11:47 PM on December 13, 2010


Thanks, zamboni. I guess we're down to one final question: who the hell pees in a bottle and doesn't put the cap back on?

I love that this question requires that final qualifier.
posted by No-sword at 1:23 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's kind of passive aggressive but as protests go slipping counter point of view book marks into books is pretty mild; could even be fun.

It wasn't fun for the 36-week pregnant lady who bought one of my books on motherhood and was confronted with postcards, bookmarks, and other stealthily placed propaganda featuring graphic photos of aborted babies. And then wrote to me and the publisher about it. And then couldn't understand that those things weren't actually supposed to be in the book, because she bought it in the bookstore. And now forever associates my name and work with horrible, shocking, graphic images.

So, no.
posted by mothershock at 4:59 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wasn't fun for the 36-week pregnant lady who bought one of my books on motherhood and was confronted with postcards, bookmarks, and other stealthily placed propaganda featuring graphic photos of aborted babies.

Eponysterical.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2010


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