"Internalizing a Librarian's Altruistic Value; A Self-witnessing report on book conservation"

by Todd Hirano


This report will be dealing with the subject of Altruism being related to book conservation in the library. Altruism can be illustrated in this way because the care and consideration given to books in the library by the public is a form of altruistic behavior. An example of my own altruistic behavior is my past experiences with borrowing library books. I tried to be careful arid to return the books by the due date so others may use it.

Altruism is a hard term to define because it is often herd to differentiate it from other behaviors which look like altruism. Some examples are when people do things for others but, actually are doing it for their own gain or to relieve guilt or pressure from themselves. A basic and common definition of altruism is helping another person or putting others before one's self under which the helper can see no benefits or personal gain for himself. Altruism would fit into zone 7 of the ennead matrix and is a spiritual drive.

In the light of the definition just given then, book conservation can be seen as a form of altruism. A person who is conscientious about caring for library books and returning them on time is altruistic because he is concerned with the consideration of others. Altruism is a drive of the spiritual self and therefore reasoning cannot convince you to be altruistic.

Chapter 6 of Krupat's book discussed altruism and what causes it or inhibits it. The experiments showed that one thing that influences altruistic behavior is if one of a person's parents displays good moralistic behavior. The number of by stander present in a situation also makes adifference in the chances of a person giving aid to a person in need of help. The more people present the less likely a person will help another. This is true because people may think that Vsomeone must have already gone to get help" also, people will be conscious of other people watching them and don't want to make a fool of themselves if they overreact. Also, some situations are hard to be clearly defined as an emergency. If other people in a crowd are acting calmly, then other people will observe this and think that the situation is not an emergency.


In order to see book conservation as altruism our class was shown a slide show from the library which showed the do's and don'ts of book care and handling. The film explained that in caring for books now, others will benefit from your effort and that it saves library workers a lot of trouble. It talked about al1 the trouble the library personnel. have to go through if a book is lost since many books especially odd books are no longer being published.

The slides gave many suggestions for making books last longer. Many of the things mentioned were new to me since I didn't realize that books required so much care. The slide show said that it isn't good to pull books down from the shelves by their bindings, it is better to push neighboring books in and then pulling the book out. Another fact mentioned was that books shouldn't be exposed to direct sunlight and that they shouldn't be repaired with scotch tape. I also found out that if you bend the cover of a book too far back, it will eventually break. The slide show also said that books should be stood up straight and should not be put into a space which is too small.

This slide show demonstrated many facts about caring for books which I was never aware of. I am now informed about things which I never gave a second thought to.


This slide show made me much more aware of the fragility of books and the care needed to make them last a long time. Most of the things that the demonstration said shouldn't be done to library books were things that I wasn't aware of and are what I have been previously doing. For example, I pull books out of the shelves by their bindings and never gave it a second thought. I also use to bend the covers back without being fully aware of the possible negative consequences.

I am also more aware of the value of library books; not just their material value but their practical value. Since so many people will use these books, we should take good care of them for the sake of others.

The demonstration had a positive effect on me in the way that I will now try to act more altruistidly and handle library books with more care when I use them. To me, the demonstration made a difference because of all the new facts I am now aware of. I am now more likely to care for library books more because I would be doing others a favor and I would appreciate it if when I borrowed a book it is in good condition with no pages missing. I would be helping others a favor by returning my books on time in case someone else needs that particular book.


Altruism is a spiritual drive (zone 7) which comes from our inner most self. As seen from my results to watching the slide show, my main reason for wanting to act altruistically in the future is to do others a favor. This desire just came from my inside and isn't due to rationalizing or reasoning.

Not all people have this altruistic drive, however. This is true because all people end up in their own level of happiness. Some people may feel no concern for others and can be contented with just being concerned with themselves. These feel no desire or pressure to have to help others and would no guilt if they didn't help someone in need of help.

As one experiment in Krupat Ch.6 revealed, if a person has one parent which sets a good moral example, that person will more likely act altruistically. This may be part of the reason why some people have this spiritual drive more than others. It is obvious from looking at all the damaged and lost books and all the people who aren't concerned enough to return books on time that some people possess more altruistic characteristics than others. These people simply don't have the drive to do others a favor and are probably more concerned about themselves.


Altruism is a complex subject because the cause and motivation for this kind of behavior is hard to determine and some people have it more than others. It is a hard concept to grasp and some people claim that there is not such thing as altruism. This is true because a person rewards himself for doing good things for others.

Viewing the demonstration and doing this report gave me better insight to altruistic behavior and has somehow gave me a little more motivation to act in altruistic ways. I am also more aware of the altruistic drive I already have. Somehow I just like to help people whenever I can. For example, just today one of my roommates just moved and I offered to take him to the store and cook dinner with him. I am also altruistic in the way that I am concerned for others feelings and try not to hurt them. I guess I do these things because I feel better about myself or maybe it's just me, I'm not sure why I have this concern and desire to help others, but I know that some people definitely have a lot less of it than me. I am not trying to make myself seem great but I am just using myself as an example.

I think altruisim is something more people should concern themselves with because there is more selfish people than the world needs.

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