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Librarian Georgia Saoirse Says the Elderly Deface Books to Indicate They've Read Them Before

(Ian Forsyth/Getty Images, @green_grainger/Twitter)

A librarian noticed a huge "mystery" taking place in the library when an elderly reader had a curious inquiry.

Georgia Saoirse, a social media and communications manager from Dundee, Scotland, tweeted her discovery of cryptic symbols etched on some book pages that turned out to be a special code employed by the elderly.


"A wee old women came in and said 'I've a question. Why does page 7 in all the books I take out have the 7 underlined in pen? It seems odd,' Saoirse wrote. "'What?' I say, thinking she might be a bit off her rocker. She showed me, and they did."

Sure enough, the number seven had a dash underneath it.


It wasn't the only book that had the suspicious slashes. With nothing to rely on but intuition, and maybe her penchant for watching too many horror movies, she started to wonder if a serial killer was in their midst.

I asked if she was doing it, she said she wasnt and showed me the new book she was getting out that she hadnt even had yet. It also had the 7 underlined! "I don't know, maybe someone really likes page 7?" I said, assuming of course that there is a serial killer in the library.

Saoirse did notice a pattern. The markings were apparent among a specific genre of books.

I checked some other books. Most didn't have it, but a lot in this genre did - they're "wee old women" books (romances set in wartime Britain etc). Lots of underlined 7s. The woman who pointed it out shrugged and went on her way, "just thought you should know."

She wondered about the significance of the number seven and what the dashes indicated. Alas, her manager returned from a break with an explanation and assured there was no serial killer, even though the suspected vandal is a literary slasher of sorts.


With current technology keeping record of what gets checked out and returned, the elderly seem steadfast in their idiosyncratic method. Could they be mourning the loss of the card catalogue system?



Now that the big mystery was solved, two points came to mind with one of them being a gripe about the code.



Saoirse is a newbie, which could explain her obliviousness to the secret code.





Her tweet reached viral status after reaching over 26 thousand likes. Some responded to share their familiarity with the unique ritual.









Saoirse updated followers on the system's recent upgrade.




The process of archiving book traffic in the U.S. slightly differs from the protocol in Scotland.




One user admired the old tradition.


Looks like the secret practice isn't going away anytime soon. The page seven vandal has returned!



H/T - Twitter, Mashable