Tending the Collection

A much needed quiet day. The Jewish Passover and Easter Triduum are almost upon us, a time for retreat and recollection. Many staff are already on leave, as I will be after today.

Time to give our hard-used collection some TLC. I sort through the "new non-fiction" browsing section, pulling titles older than about six months, removing the red dot stickers on the spine labels that keep them there, peeling off old tape from "on hold" slips left on their covers. For many of these books, this would be the end-of-life in a bookstore. The author tour is over, they are off any bestseller lists, the talk shows and book reviews have moved on. Some have gained enough standing to continue to circulate for years. Others will soon sit unread, ultimately to be weeded after 5 or so years of inactivity.

Working them into the regular non-fiction sections, I have sometimes to make room. The 320's, Political Science, are particularly tight. There the shelves groan with the printed blasts and counter-blasts of the Bush years, 9/11 -> Iraq Invasion -> the '04 Elections. Four and five copies of titles by Coulter, O'Reilly, Franken, Huffington, Michael Moore, are beginning to gather dust. Guys, I'm taking your shelf space. Two copies per title.

It's almost as bad in the 332's, Personal Finance, where "get rich" investment and real estate titles from the Bubble Years seem almost nostalgic.

Later, I take a truck of selections from the March donations to be processed: a fine, new edition of Plato, complete works of Montaigne, Karl Popper's Conjectures and Refutations, Lamps of the 50s & 60s with values, Bowie in Berlin, many precious replacements for titles lost or withdrawn.

It's all I ever wanted, to work with my ink-and-paper friends. Arm-loads of books, how I love them.

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