Yes, we have heard all the many rationalizations of this behavior: "Academic research doesn't begin and end with the semester, or the academic year." "If all the faculty ever returned all the books they have out on loan at once, the library would be swamped; they only fit into that building now because faculty keep library books out for ages." "I never see any students using those books anyway, so it doesn't hurt anybody." "Faculty members deserve special library privileges; after all, we are the university."

Some of these protests may even be justified, from the institution's point of view. None is justified from the recovering addict's point of view. Addictive behavior is destructive even if its only victim is the addict him/herself--even if it actually benefits others, the addict's institutional codependents.

Take a long hard look at your compulsive need to line your shelves, desk, and floors with overdue library books. What deep emotional need is satisfied by "possessing" all those books that don't belong to you?

Bob C. was a notorious library-book-hoarder who at one count had 478 library books in his department office--all, of course, absolutely essential for his current research project, which dealt with gas station iconicity in the industrial northeast. In group he finally found the courage to look deep inside for the true underlying motive behind this addictive behavior, and discovered a need to control his environment that was directly tied to a childhood experience with a librarian who would not let him check out the books he wanted, especially the medical texts that had all the answers to his adolescent questions.

Back to Am I An Addict?

Copyright Doug Robinson and Emil W. Kaul