It is a sad truth that otherwise conscientious and well-meaning people do bad things to books.  They do these things out of ignorance, or because they are so focused on a quick, convenient solution to serve their own needs in a given moment that they fail to consider the long-term consequences of their actions.  (The same explanation might describe how the U.S. economy got into its current pickle, but this is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.)

This beautiful compendium of 21st century world architecture, printed in full color on glossy, clay-coated paper ($cha-ching!$) was returned to the library with three dozen Avery labels stuck on its pages as bookmarks.  Apparently, the user who borrowed this book did not consider the fact that Avery labels — although similar in size and shape to “removable” Post-It tabs — are formulated for a very different purpose, namely, to label things by ADHERING to them.  Permanently.  (Not that I advocate the use of Post-Its on collection materials, either — see Craig at Preservation@ ZSR’s  succinct explanation of their evils.)  Someone did try to remove a few of the labels, as you can see here:

In some spots, the paper skinned, while in others, a tacky, dirt-attracting residue was left behind.  The labels must be removed slowly and carefully with the aid of a lifting knife.  Residual adhesive is picked up using a “crepe eraser.”  Finally, a piece of Remay (woven polyester) is placed over the marred clay coating  and rubbed firmly with a bonefolder to burnish the surface of the paper.  This technique proves remarkably successful, as you can see in the photo of a repaired page below, but it is time-consuming.

The Conservation Lab repairs a lot of damage caused by the usual wear-and-tear that books are subjected to.  That’s our job, and we do it gladly.  However, when we occasionally come across this sort of blatant disregard for a borrowed item, we feel perfectly justified in charging the borrower for the cost of repairs.  When this user sees the bill for our services, I feel confident that he or she will not be tempted to use Avery labels as bookmarks again.