I am a flight attendant. I was working a flight from Europe when I recognized Michael Connelly, my favorite author, on board. I told him I was reading his novel “Brass Verdict,” and he kindly offered to autograph it. The catch: it is a library book. Must I return the signed book to the library, or can I replace it with a new copy in a suitable jacket? J. T., ST. SIMONS, GA.
You may keep your trophy if you follow the procedure you propose and meet any other costs of retrofitting the replacement for library use. As a general matter, a library should not be regarded as an ad hoc bookstore, but on those rare occasions when you need a particular book at 35,000 feet for so glamorous an encounter, there’s no harm in it. (I’d act similarly if I met the ghost of Jane Austen on the D.C. shuttle.) I am a bit disconcerted by Connelly’s writing in a library book, knowingly or unknowingly, but whether he defaced or embellished it is something for literary critics to adjudicate.
UPDATE: J. T. bought a new copy and a heavy-duty clear plastic cover, but the original cover was affixed too firmly for her to remove. She threw herself on the mercy of a librarian, who told her, “Don’t do it again,” helped her install the new cover and let her keep the autographed copy. No charge.