Don’t worry. You won’t get in trouble.
Personally, I write in the margins of many things. I write all over the research papers I read and in the books from my personal library too. Some books are so full of information (like Karin Nickelsen’s book about 18th-century botanical illustrations), notes are a necessity because they are the only way I can keep up with the author and relate new information to other things I’ve read. Writing in the margins is how I make meaning. What I do not do, is highlight and underline pages and pages of text. Highlighting and excessive underlining never worked for me. While studying teaching and learning techniques and student learning in grad school, I read a comment by someone making the point that the act of highlighting text is simply proclaiming, I’ll get to this later. Now isn’t that the truth? I apologize for not being able to give credit to this individual.
What about doodling? Do you create doodles to help you process information in the text?
Then you might be interested in an exhibition at the University of North Carolina exploring why images are paired with text and how information is conveyed through pictures. The exhibition, Meaningful Marks: Image and Text and the History of the Book, is on view at the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room in the Wilson Special Collection Library until September 28, 2011. One of the books featured in the exhibit is Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1731-1743).
Getting back to scribbling in book margins…
Do you find this practice offensive or are you okay with people who do this? Here is a link to a short video featuring interviews with people on both sides of this issue. This video was created by multimedia journalist, Jonathan Michaels, and takes a look at why we write in books.
This post marks the beginning of a new feature about books and literature pertaining to plants, nature, natural history art and related topics.