Really Stacked

So this being the last week of our “Please don’t send us any books” period for now, we naturally had a donation of roughly 100 boxes arrive Tuesday morning. This beats the 59 boxes we had from one donor on Thursday last week, and the 57 we had on Monday. The Monday donation has a special place in our hearts—or somewhere—because the volunteer picking them up managed to run over his toe with a cart of books. This is exciting because it is the same toe he broke three weeks ago while picking up books. But, thanks to this 100-box delivery, the poisonous complexion of his toe is no longer our main concern.

(Yes, banana nut quesadilla, that was a joke about toe-main poisoning. This is a funnier joke when spoken aloud, but not much funnier. Don’t worry about his toe. When I asked this week if it was better, he said “Can’t kick.” Let’s get back to business, shall we?)

These books had been in storage for some time, and showed signs of needing Uncle Blogsy’s advice from top to bottom. So, on the assumption that some of you are NOT bringing me books this week, but instead putting them into storage, I will pass along what this donor should have considered several years ago.

The boxes on the top are going to get dusty: it would be a good thing to have lids on them. Farther down in the stack, your books will be protected by the boxes above—at least in terms of dust. They put the lightest things on top, of course, so these open boxes were full of videocassettes, which now bear a layer of dust several years deep.

Those boxes on the bottom are going to have six feet of boxes stacked on top of them, if you do these things the way this donor did. So it would be a nice consideration for whoever undoes the pile to make sure these important foundation boxes HAVE SIDES. Boxes without sides will have a more difficult time sustaining all that weight than boxes WITH sides.

CDs, which come in plastic cases that break if a chickadee frowns at them, should not be packed in a box at the bottom of a stack if six feet of boxes are stacked on top of them.

Boxes at the bottom of the stack should be filled as full as you can do it. This creates a solid base. Creating a solid base, rutabaga roux, is a wonderful thing as it prevents a hundred pounds of boxes from toppling over when the boxes next to the pile are removed.

In fact, almost all your boxes of books should be filled as full as you can fill them. Leaving empty space in a box gives the books a chance to shift while you are preparing to stack another box on top of them. This book, having shifted, regrets having done so when the weight of boxes above presses it into place and, if it has fallen between two stacks of books at an angle, bends the book into an L shape. But it is too late, alas, for regrets, and the book is trapped in that posture until some kindly person takes the mountain apart.

The weight of the boxes is best allowed to rest on books which are lying flat: not spine up, not spine down, and not standing upright. Especially if the box has not been filled completely, this presents books which have been pressed into the shape of the letter S, and sometimes into a lower-case r. You may, if you wish, try to make an entire alphabet out of bent books, but in this case you should donate them to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Finally, if you have a hundred or so boxes stacked up for a long time in a dusty place, boxes which are crumpling under the weight of the boxes above and crushed by having gravity pull them against the badly packed box below, it is best not to decide the Newberry really needs to have these on a day when the heat index is over 95, in a week when the Book Fair has said it would rather not get books. THIS will prevent large people coming to your house and…oh, I’m sorry. They can’t actually show up until after Labor Day, and telling you about it now would spoil the story on the morning news.

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