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MFA in Writing at Vermont College

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Is That Stain?

Let me begin this post by saying I am not a germaphobe. 

I drink water out of the yard hose.  I double dip my salsa chips.  I very rarely wash my coffee mug and I tend to use the same bath towel until it can stand on its own. I am not one to be concerned with germs.

Muck / [muhk] noun
filth, dirt, or slime.

But I must admit that library books freak me out! 

It seems every book I check out from my local library is filled with strange globs, goops and spills.  I mean what is all that stuff?  I swear the previous reader of the book was a hungry woodchuck slurping down mashed potatoes while turning the pages with sticky paws.  What else could possibly make those types of stains?

What are those mysterious chunks stuck in the spine of the page?  What is that sticky substance in the corner?  Where could that splotch of goop have come from?  Opening a library book is kind of like opening up a mystery surprise… you’re never quite sure what you’re going to find.

Gunk [guhngk] noun Informal .
any sticky or greasy residue or accumulation: gunk on the oil filter.

I feel as if I have to take a shower after every library book I read.  I vote to place sterilizer machines at each library checkout counter.  Perhaps we can laminate every page of every book or use handy wipes to scrub down every book on every shelf.  I am in favor of a law that makes it illegal to eat and read a library book at the same time.

Splotch [sploch] noun
a large, irregular spot; blot; stain; blotch.

For research sake I have decided to document the peculiar stains that I encounter in library books.  Maybe I will send all these photographs to my local Senator.  Perhaps I will create a coffee table book with all my photographs that others can check out from the library and spill things on.

But by drawing attention to this travesty I hope to recruit others to my cause.  We will call ourselves the Stainless Book Club or Those Against the Gooey Decimal System or The Dirty Librarians. Okay the name is a work in progress. 

Goo [goo] noun Informal.  
a thick or sticky substance: Wash that goo off your hands.

In the meantime if you see some strange guy at the library turning pages with pristine white gloves, it is not a famous archivist or a rare books librarian, it is most likely me just trying to get a little reading done.

sludge [sluhj] noun
any of various more or less mudlike deposits or mixtures.

Seriously, what is this stuff?




  1. I with ya Jeff! freaks me out too. LOVE the idea of a coffee table book of photographs of books stains. Nice!

  2. Hey Jeff! You've got quite a photo collection starting here. At our library in Pasadena, I've checked out way too many DVDs that also house a distinct aroma ... Someone with similar taste in documentaries has been storing their rentals in the football team's hamper.