"Internalizing A Librarian's Altruistic Value: A Self-Witnessing Report on Book Conservation"

By Steven E. Mendes


In the past I have frequented the library a considerable number of times. Even as a child I would some times go to my school library, if not to work on a class project then just to entertain my curiosity. From the very beginning I treated my visits with the utmost seriousness. This may be due to the fact that in my first four years of school were at a private(Catholic) school and the nuns there sis not look kindly on any Tom-foolory within library compounds. In a sense it represented an almost religious sanctuary of learning.

Fortunately, although my relationship and respect for the church had diminished, as I grew older, my respect for the library had not. I recall that in high school I would make it a point to return books on time because I felt that I was obligated. Even until recently I held the belief that it is necessary to return books on time because that is the rule. Now, I have changed, after reading the chapter on altruism by Krupat and after viewing the slide show in class I respect the rules of the library for a different reason. I realize that the library is a place of learning and everybody deserves the right to learn. Therefore it is my responsibility to take care of the books and facilities within the library and also to return books back on time so that others have the opportunity to use them.


The slide show that was seen in class had three main objectives. First was the concern of handling library books; second was the concern of reporting damaged books; and third was the concern of making people aware of the value of the library.

In the slide show various forms of book abuse were shown. For example grabbing the book off the shelf from the top of the spine. Another example of book abuse was the bending of books completely back when opening them.

Finally the basic theme of making people realize the importance of the library was exhibited. Everybody has the right to learn and the preserving of knowledge contained in the library is our responsibility.


The slide Show helped me changed my view of the library. Originally I felt that taking care of the library and its books was something one did because it is what should be done for the sake of the librarians. Now, however, I see that taking care of it is not for the librarians, but for the people---for every body.

For me taking care of library books does not mean ridding myself of any feeling of guilt, but rather doing it because I respect the rights of other people to enjoy the books as much as I do.


You may ask, how does the slide show relate to the Ennead matrix? This is really quite simple. The highest point within the matrix is altruism. It is altruism(the doing of good things for society with no selfish intent) that leads toward a concern for the library and its books.

The unselfish concern of letting people indulge in the vast amount of knowledge and entertainment contained within the library is an altruistic belief. In order for the realization of the value of the library for society can be attained only when we have attained the ability to act altruistically towards our fellow man. Knowledge is one of the greatest forms of freedom and helping others towards this freedom is a very altruistic act indeed.


The whole concept of altruism is very beautiful and an extremely worthwhile aim. Without it mankind would be very much closer to his animal friends. It has been argued however, that possibly there is no true form of altruism expressed by man. This, however, I feel is over-ridden by such examples of altruism as rescuers, and bystander intervention.

Man is such an affected creature that it is very difficult to determine the reasons behind his actions. If there really exists an altruistic aspect of man, as is supported by the Ennead Matrix, then it is something all should strive for--- even if it be such a seemingly unimportant act as caring for one's library.

Altruism is yet another stepping stone so that mankind may further advance towards a higher level of being.

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