Saturday, July 06, 2013

Book love

Over at nicoleandmaggie's, there's a link to a story about weeding books at the Urbana Free Library.  When the Head of Adult Services was away for three weeks, someone created a spreadsheet, red-lined every book that was over 10 years old, and, because she wanted to use part-time workers' hours efficiently, told them to get rid of every redlined book on the list regardless of use.

A couple of lessons there: just because you put it in Excel doesn't make it efficient or wise, and just because it's more than 10 years old doesn't mean that it's useless. Valuable art books, gardening books--all expensive to replace--are gone.  What do you think the odds are that the library will actually replace them?

I've been thinking about this because I've been clearing out some of my shelves to make way for the results of a trip to the City of Books. I have no more wall space for bookshelves and couldn't justify them anyway.  Books are the items that most make me a candidate for Hoarders, since I keep thinking, "well, I haven't looked at it in 15 years, but maybe I'll want to read it again sometime."

That's a harder claim to make now, with web availability for a lot of the books. My main criteria for getting rid of some copies are estimated use and also duplication: I've finally convinced myself that I don't need three copies of Tom Jones or six copies of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. 

But the secondhand bookstore near me will only take certain books, and while I dropped some off at Goodwill, if they won't take them, I can't face putting them in the recycling bin. They're not kittens, but I still want them to go to a good home.

One set I'm not getting rid of is actually a partial set: it's dispatches from Gettysburg, part of a series of Civil War dispatches published in the 1880s or 1890s. On the recent 150th anniversary, I looked at a few of them, just in remembrance.

Where did I get them?

A library was throwing them out, and I snagged as many from the free books table as I could carry before they went into the dumpster.


Tree of Knowledge said...

I get rid of books by giving them to students. We have a book swap every semester at our school, started by faculty but now run by students in the English Honor society. For one week, they set up tables in a few locations on campus and put out donated books and students take them for free (and leave some too that other students take). I've also given directly to students in a class when it was relevant. If your school doesn't do a book swap and you don't want to start one, a small book shelf outside the dept office (or your office) with a "Free to a good home" sign should do the trick.

undine said...

Good idea, Tree. I usually do this during the school year but am too far away right now.

Anonymous said...

Devastating. There are so many books I haven't touching in ten years that are important, fabulous, or necessary later.

When my local bookseller won't take something I'm ready to be rid of, I leave it on the curb. People in Berkeley do it all the time, and most passersby are very careful about what they take. If it's not gone in a few days I take it to the library, where they sell anything they won't put on shelves.

chacha1 said...

Our local library also has a "friends" store. My Goodwill only accepts popular fiction, so everything else I'm divesting goes to the library.

I have found a couple of treasures at library "friends" sales. :-)