Bookspurners | Newberry


I still get calls from people who are convinced I will sneer and cry out, “Take those books hence! They are not fit for our exalted presence!”

We like books here; we really do. Sometimes we ask that you hold off for a while, but even in our most desperate moratorium periods we’ll tell you to bring ‘em in if you hafta. And though we wish there were a way to keep you all from coming on the same day (54 boxes last Tuesday), still, we realize it’s just a matter of kismet or karma or koincidence. We always try to be accommodating and patient, even when five cars pull up in succession and unload old Economics textbooks. And STILL I will get phone calls where people go on describing their collections book by book to convince me they’re worthy of the Newberry Library ten minutes after I’ve said “Yes.”

I wonder sometimes about those of you who insist on bringing ten bags of books two days after the Book Fair, but I take the books. (Now, if you call for a book pickup two days after the Book fair, that’s another matter. I have no volunteers who even want to SEE another book at that point, much less pick one up.)

To the best of my recollection, we have only once turned away someone who brought books to the library. And he made three mistakes it would be well for you to ponder.

Mistake One: He brought a truckload of books. That was about it. No boxes or bags, mind you: just a truck loaded three feet deep with loose books. That, as I have suggested before, is bad manners.

Mistake Two: He brought these to our loading dock an hour before the opening of that year’s Book Fair. Let us just glance back at Mistake One. Unloading that many books and moving them somewhere out of the way would have taken a lot more than an hour. This speaks not only of bad manners but of general cluelessness.

Mistake Three: I didn’t catch this, myself. After the man had driven off, grumbling, the books still in his truck, a sharp-eyed volunteer said “Did you see what was at the back of the load, against the front wall of the truck?”

“No,” said I, “I tend to close my eyes when I’m screaming. What was it?”

“Folded card tables. He was obviously trying to sell these books at a flea market somewhere and came here to dump his leftovers.”

See, we really do like books. People are another matter. 

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