Save the Books

4 Nov

I have a problem, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I’m a book hoarder.

Have we ever told you that Stacy and I fell heir to an entire elementary school library?  We did.  Granted, it wasn’t a very big elementary school, but in it’s hay-day, and there is a lot of hay near that playground, I think Raven (for that was its name) might have had three rooms.  And I’m not counting the bathroom and porch.  Three classrooms.  That is super huge in the world of one room school houses.

Well, in the last ten years that world has gotten smaller.  Significantly smaller.  As in, there are no more country schools in the county where we grew up.  But Raven held on for a long time.  My childhood friend Amanda was the teacher in those waning years.  And on Raven’s final academic year just she and one student occupied the classroom.  Yep, you read that right.  One student.

When the pair final made their way to Town School (for that is not its name, just what we call it) the contents of the building were up for grabs.  I’m not really sure how all the details fell in place, but it seems that no one wanted the this old school’s library collection.  The Town School and the Public Library already had the titles and didn’t need to incorporate duplicates, and so these dear, beloved tomes were teetering on the edge of destroyment (to borrow a word from my super-smart, well-read nephew.)

Pastor Williams – our good friend, childhood Shepherd, and Rachel’s Father, hereafter known as the Reader’s Rescuer – gathered unto himself the volumes nearing their imminent demise.  He invited our families into his living room to sort through them all, choose whatever we liked, and then forward the remaining works to other voracious readers.  So while our oldest sons still wanted to digest books orally rather than aurally my sister and I fostered a new love, and addiction to literature.

There were plenty of books judged by their covers that day.  The older, dingier, and most frayed covers won immediate spots in our “keep” boxes.  Anything resembling an award or medal also went straight into our possession.

There were also lots of covers that didn’t make the cut. With no regret biographies of Tara Lapinski and Fred Savage continued on their journeys to find that perfect big haired, leg-warmer wearing reader that needed them.  But I still experience guilt pangs for gems that might have been lost due to our ignorance.  Did some classic slip through our hands because a publisher chose to give it a dorky, glossy cover?  Every time I put another title into my library’s search engine I wonder to myself, “Did I once hold this hardcover in my hands only to deem it unworthy of our overcrowded basement bookshelves?”  It haunts me.

That uneasy question is always followed by this one:  “Do we already own this book?”  There’s a good chance.  I have absolutely no idea what books we own anymore.  There are thousands of them.  And while I once had an ambitious week when I decided to catalog the collection in librarything.com,  my efforts were quickly thwarted when I hit their free limit of 200 entries.  (On a sidenote:  if you have any recommendations of ways to organize this mess, I would love to hear them.  And even better yet, if you want to come over and do it for us, that would be great.  I’d give you a free library card.)

And that, my friends, is the story of how our library came to be.  So, now I bet you’re anxious to hear what cover has been chosen to be judged today.  Sorry, I just couldn’t find one.  I think I’ll be heading GRPL now.

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5 Responses to “Save the Books”

  1. Michelle November 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I keep an Excel spread sheet of all the books I read. I’ve been trying to add all the books I own too, but it’s a slow process. I plan on finishing it when I have to pack them all up and move in less than a year.

    • Christina November 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

      I’ve thought about that. Sadly, I’m pretty bad, and slow with Excel, but maybe I could get my Mom to do it for me. She loves Excel. Hmmmm. . .

  2. kathy November 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    I want to come catalog your books! I have the little barcode scanner and everything. In exchange you and your kids will have to put up with me and my kid. Oh, and that library card. I’m actually almost completely serious.

    • Christina November 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

      We should almost completely seriously make this happen. What do you scan them into?

      Oh, and about 25% of them are old enough that they don’t have bar codes. Some are even old enough that they don’t have ISBN’s. It’s an adventure.

      • Kathy November 10, 2011 at 9:19 am #

        Ack! I forgot to subscribe to the comments, so I missed your reply.
        A) Happy (belated) birthday.
        B) I got the scanner from LibraryThing, so that’s what I use. I’m pretty sure you could scan in a batch and then delete them so as not to exceed the 200 book limit. On the other hand, I was so in love with the idea of having my own card catalog that the $25 for a lifetime membership or whatever was totally worth it to me (full disclosure–I haven’t been keeping up with it lately, so maybe it wasn’t, in retrospect?).
        C) We should do this.

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