Reading in the paper about the library under threat that was emptied by its users cheered me up considerably. It’s a similar approach to the one taken by Andromeda Klein in the book by the same name, by Frank Portman, when she hopes to rescue all her favourite – albeit rather weird – books from being thrown out from the library for not being borrowed enough.
This is civil disobedience at its best. You don’t have to march or shout, and the police are not likely to attack you as you leave the library with your legal allowance of books. You’re just borrowing them. Keeping them safe.
It’s probably the same feeling I had when I spent so many 10 pences on deleted books from Offspring’s school library. I wanted to prevent them being binned, at least as much as I welcomed some cheap reads for myself. I know you have to prune belongings. You can’t keep getting new books in and find space for them if you don’t prune. But, this school library shifted books out in double quick time, when it would have been better use of resources not to buy some of them in the first place, or to have ‘got rid of’ them in a more suitable way than chucking them into a container in the school car park.
So I saved what I could. An encyclopaedia that Son carried home one volume at a time because it was so heavy, we kept while it was useful for school needs, and then managed to pass onto someone on Freecycle. I had thought it’d be far too difficult in this age of Wikipedia, so it felt doubly good that it had somewhere other than the tip to go to.
We weren’t so lucky with the government’s Millennium gift of a set of classics for every school library. They departed with no further ado before anyone much had even had long enough to ignore them. That was a well intentioned gift, but possibly not a marvellous one. Schools don’t do enough on classics to make anyone want to borrow them, and neither teachers nor parents are likely to enthuse a 14-year-old into Dickens, or ‘worse’.
Someone blogged recently about pulping books. She had run a small publishing company which had been bought out by someone bigger. But what to do with stock? It appears you can’t even give it away. My heart hurt reading this, but that’s probably nothing compared to what she must have felt.
And an author was asking on facebook recently what to do with all her foreign editions. You can give books away, but it costs money. And in many authors’ homes that’s not something they have spare. Put wonderful books in the recycling bin? Or landfill if the local authority hasn’t seen the light yet.
It’s irrational, but I want to save the lot. And you all know I don’t have the room to do that. But I could most likely manage ten library books if they needed a temporary refuge.