Telephone Time | Page 51 | Newberry

Telephone Time

I told you, not too long ago, about people who call me up and tell me all about the books they’re giving me, bound and determined to prove that their books aren’t good enough for me. I understand, really. They’re sure I’ll scream that the squirrels in the park line their nests with better paper than they’re offering and then threaten to call the cops if they insist on pestering me with such stuff.

I hope I have made it clear that I very, very seldom do this. (In fact, I haven’t done that ONCE yet in 2011.)

The other kind of people call too. I don’t understand why a person would fish for compliments about books they’re getting rid of, but there are such people.

Caller: I have some books that have been in the family for years.

Little Old Me: That’s something to be proud of, sir.

Caller: But I need to make space and I thought I might give them to you.

LOM: That’s something to be even prouder of.

Caller: Some of these books go back to the 1800s.

LOM: You hardly sound old enough for that, sir.

Caller: My grandfather bought the COMPLETE works of Shakespeare. They’re in leather bindings.

LOM: That sounds quite impressive.

Caller: Most of the covers are falling off, but it says right on the front page, 1897.

LOM: That is a while back, sir.

Caller: If I donate these, will you say that on the receipt?

LOM: Of course, sir. (But what I say after you take your receipt and go might be more interesting.)

You’re entitled to think what you like about your books, and I have the same right after you’ve dropped them off. Sometimes I get a caller who’s not sure I’m QUITE the right person for such wonderful tomes.

Caller: I have some books my mother collected.

LOM: I’m sure they’re very nice.

Caller: Do you ever buy books?

LOM: Not for the Book Fair, no.

Caller: I don’t suppose you know any HONEST book dealers? The kind who will offer a fair price? I’ve had some in and I know they were offering me less than eighty percent what the book was worth.

LOM: I don’t believe I know any book dealers who are quite THAT unselfish.

Caller: If I give these books to you, do you have a section at the Fair for the better books? I’d hate to think these would go to just anybody.

LOM: We have a Collectibles section. Of course you know, Ma’am, that the Library has dibs on anything that comes in. If your books are chosen for the collection, you will likely get a very nice thank you note from a Curator.

Caller: A curator! Then I think I’d better give them to you. Do you pick up? There are five books total.

At this point, I always hope somebody WILL take the books upstairs for the collection. It will save me ever having to deal with the caller ever again. And I hope her mother didn’t collect Shakespeare with the leather bindings coming loose.

The squirrels in the park are getting tired of those. 

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