Ooh, it’s Tax Day once again! That day when every true patriot thinks, “Golly gosh, I get to help provide for all those government services I enjoy each and every day! Oh, I WISH it came more than once a year!”
All right, rhubarb biscuit, now you tell one.
Anyway, in honor of the fact that I had mail delivered and was not killed by an airplane that was piloted by an enemy combatant or simply off course due to a lapse in air traffic control, let’s talk about donating books to the Newberry Library, which, as a 501 (c) 3 institution, can provide you with a receipt to note on NEXT year’s taxes. (By the way, since April is one of those months when we discourage donations, you DO understand I’m talking about donating NEXT month? You do? Oh, your funny stories top mine every time, banana cream bagel.)
You need to call ahead only if you’re bringing a lot or something really unusual. “A lot” means more than seven boxes or ten bags all at once, and “something really unusual” means, say, a stereo system or an electric guitar.
If you’re bringing in no more than you’d mind carrying up the front steps, why, just carry it up the front steps. The guard on duty at the kiosk (that’s that little fort with the gates on each side) knows just what to do and can make out the receipt.
If you’re bringing more than you want to carry up the steps, or you feel it would take several trips up and down the steps (parking out front is iffy, so you don’t want to stay there long), come around to the back of the building. This is “back of the building” as in “Oak Street.” There’s a gate to our parking lot halfway up the block. Missed it, didn’t you? Go around the block and try again. We’ll still be here.
There are three entrances to the library from the parking lot. If you walk up to four glass doors, you will be able to come inside, but this is not the place to leave books. If you have come up some concrete stairs to a locked door, you cannot get in and you are not supposed to leave books there, either. If you have climbed stairs or a ramp to reach a concrete shelf, you are in the right spot. (In the days before that last addition, there was a fourth door, which was accessible only by the fire escape. Yeah, people left book donations up there a couple of times. What is there about the phrase “concrete ramp” which makes people think “metal staircase”? It’s something personal, I know it.)
If ALL of the doors are locked against you, it is either Sunday, or it is 2 A.M. Go home. Do not pass GO, do not collect a receipt.
You eventually face metal doors, next to a sign that gives the hours for delivery. Ignore this sign; it has been there since 1982, and, anyway, parts of it occasionally fall off. Just whomp on the door or use the phone box to call the guard at the kiosk, if you want help or a receipt. If you don’t want a receipt (which seems vaguely un-American today), you may just leave your books and…. No, not right in front of the door! You’d be surprised how many people pile their books right in front of the door so I’ll be sure to find them. Or would you? Would you be surprised to know how many people are part Easter Bunny, and tuck their books away in some distant corner of the dock instead, hoping this will make the books safer? I can’t win, marshmallowed ham loaf.
It’s all a lot easier than you might suspect, really. I have people who like to drop books off once a month or so. Either they’ve found it really fun and easy to do, or they’re selling those receipts I’ve signed on the Autograph Market. I’d charge for those things, but then you’d demand a receipt for ‘em.