Dismantling a Library

 

Book with Wings / Anselm Kiefer

 

By Loretta

I was in my early 40’s before I truly began to understand the migratory nature of books.  They need to move; it’s their job.   It finally sank in that they shouldn’t be left sitting on a shelf in a dark room, gathering silverfish and foxing, but should be out meeting and greeting as many people as possible for as long as their binding holds them together.  A bit like traveling salesmen, I guess.

Since that revelation, I have begun to slowly disassemble my collection.  I’ve reduced it by half and still, especially on rainy days, I pull the remainders from the shelves, re-read, and search for reasons to let them go.  There are those that I skip, of course, because I know I will never turn them loose willingly.   But slowly their companions are thinning out.

One of the pitfalls of working in a library is the temptation to read every book that crosses your path.   That means that many of the books I’ve hand-selected for myself over the years are sitting on my shelf unread.  They have taken a back seat because they have no specific return date.  When and if I ever get to them, many of them will follow the others out into the world.

I sometimes think about the books I’ve owned and wonder where they are and how many lives they have touched.   I hope they are out on the street, drumming up new business.

If you are interested in sending your already-read books out to do their work, but just can’t seem to let them go before reinforcements arrive, there are a number of book swapping sites springing up around the world.  If your books are not under guard or if your shelves aren’t booby-trapped with poison-tipped arrows or falling anvils, you might enjoy the trend.  Here are a few sites to check out.   Maybe some of your old friends will turn up again in the exchange.

http://bookmooch.com/
http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php
http://www.bookswap.com/bookswap/index.cfm
http://www.swaptree.com/
http://www.titletrader.com/
http://whatsonmybookshelf.com/

And, if you begin to feel totally deprived, don’t forget our Friends of the Library bookstores, where you can re-stock those sad, empty shelves at a fraction of the original cost.  You might even find a few with my name pencilled on the flyleaf.

http://www.fontanalib.org/FOL%20bookstore%20map.pdf

3 thoughts on “Dismantling a Library

  1. I loved this, Loretta!

    I like being surrounded by books in my apartment and have quite a few definite keepers, but there are a fair number that get read and then traded in somewhere, usually at City Lights.

    Like

  2. Thanks, Abby. I know what you mean. Books are the best companions. In spite of my good intentions, I have a hoard in almost every room.

    Like

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