For a while there, I was selling collectible 78 rpm records on eBay and the one piece of advice I got more than any others was “Please do not mail it in a pizza box.” This was unnecessary advice. I have made some bad moves in my time, but I have never considered mailing ANYTHING in a pizza box. Besides, 78 rpm pop records tend to be ten inches across, and it would ruin my reputation to be seen dealing with a pizza that small.
However, as a piece of advice to pass along to somebody else, it seems perfectly suitable. So I will pass it along to you, pepperoni popover: please do not donate books in pizza boxes.
In fact (you saw this coming, didn’t you?) I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that April is a “Please Don’t Bring Us Any Books Month”. Those are the breathing periods we work into the calendar so we can kind of step back from processing the incoming flood and look over the things we set aside for later—those records from the Soviet Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, say, or the binders of Pokemon cards.
Let’s go over the rules again. “Please don’t bring us any books” means “Hey, if you can hold off ‘til May, we’ll be grateful.” It does not mean “We will shoo you away if you bring us books” and it does not mean “Aw, I was just kidding: flood us with Ya-Ya Sisters.” If you MUST clean out a storage locker or an apartment or a safe deposit box, you must. I don’t ever want to be in the position of saying “I can’t take your Gutenberg Bible; I have all these paperback romances to price.”
What I’m aiming for is just a bit of time to work my way through the fifty boxes of comparative religion (we are going to have the largest religion section ever this year, oh seeker after the truth. Bring money: it’s always useful on a quest for enlightenment.) I’d like to finish up those 1100 Easy listening records (I think I got into another collection this afternoon: a whole box of Swedish and Yugoslavian folk dance music.) Time is needed to deal with all these books on decorative Victorian ironwork and decide whether they go into Antiques or Architecture. You can see how having to bring in your forty boxes of unread New Yorker magazines would use up time that I could spend on these vital matters.
Of course, this is controversial. My advisors, who sometimes refer to themselves as my “helpers”, have suggested other ways to get a breather: accepting books only on even-numbered days is a popular one, as is posting a sign saying “NO BOOKS TODAY”. They forget that putting a sign like that on a library appeals to the more jocular newspaper photographers.
I can think of these things by myself, you know. I found three records by April Stevens in a box yesterday, and started thinking up new rules. In April we accept only books and records by people named April. In May, we accept only if the donor remembers to say “Captain, May I?” before unloading the car. March would be reserved for high school band music. The possibilities are endless.
It’d do just as little good as what we do now, but it’d be more fun to argue about.