Hot Enough For Your Books?

Yesterday was one of the hottest days in the history of Chicago, and by all accounts, today is going to match it. This is the third time since 1911 that our high temperature has topped 100 degrees for three days in a row. I do hope the weather is getting this sort of thing out of its system. We have had record-temperature Book Fairs (how many of you out there remember the year we pointed what looked like two jet engines at the Bughouse speakers?) but the records I’m aiming for involve dollar signs, not degrees.

In any case, I thought this would be a good time to pass along some tips about what to do with your books during periods of excessive heat. This is the sort of information a library ought to be passing around, and I’ll take on the job if no one else will. You may wish to print out this blog (if you don’t do that every day already) and file this with your important papers. Here goes; WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BOOKS WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES ABOVE 97 DEGREES:

Sit at home and read them.

I hate to whine, but, after all, I’m good at it, and the world would be deprived if I denied my talents. What is up with you people who decided to bring books over through a heat index estimated at about 110 degrees? Are you too bookish ever to turn on the local weather? Can’t switch on your radio with both hands clutching a book?

And it was, if I might mention this, July 5. There have been hints in this blog and elsewhere on the website, that we discourage donations after the Fourth of July. So it was historically hot AND after the donation period. And still someone had to drive in with a dozen paper bags full of textbooks. (We, er, don’t sell most textbooks, and my remarks on paper bags would probably cause them to ignite on a day like today.)

Still and all, it’s part of the wonderful world of book donations. Over the years, I have started to understand the language of the good and generous people who bring us presents. Such folk read our signals differently than we might have intended.

For example, the Book Fair banners going up on the fences around the building means “Time to take over those old Britannicas!”

The phrase “we cannot accept books between the Fourth of July and Labor Day” reads as “Hey, better bring over all those old Architectural Digests!”

“Excessive Heat Warning” translates “We’d love to come help you clean out that storage locker. Be sure to go through each box book by book while we’re standing there, to be sure you don’t give us anything valuable!”

“Avoid driving so you don’t increase the ozone levels” can mean nothing but “Drive into town with those twenty boxes of books left over from your three-family garage sale, put the car in neutral, and honk until the Book Fair Manager comes out and unloads them all. Ask for three receipts.”

And that little “Thank you!” through clenched teeth as I hand over the receipt? That means, “Yes, by all means bring the rest tomorrow when it’s 104!”

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