If I should ever die–and the Newberry’s Senior Staff recently voted 6 to 5 against letting that happen, it won’t be because of heart failure. My heart has been blessed about fifteen times in the past week. This must be good for SOMETHING.
Apparently, the Newberry sponsors one of the last Wild Book Refuges in the Midwest. People with books to donate need not jump through hoops like “No Paperbacks” or “No Cookbooks” or “No Dictionaries”. They just bring in books and leave them, feeling sure the books will receive reasonably good care and be sent to new homes.
For the record, we DO have some hoops, like “No textbooks”, “No stacks of The New Yorker” or “No unidentifiable masses covered with mold”. But apparently these are considered reasonable requests–or people are planning to ignore them anyhow.
But we do not offer the experience one donor related, where he was told “Just leave them over there”, “over there” being right next to the dumpster. The idea that we will take nearly any kind of book–not to mention your DVDs, CDs, videocassettes, and stuffed microbe toys–is rare and becoming rarer. It is not universally held even at the Newberry, where there are people who sometimes complain about the boxes and the bags coming in day after day. (But not the day after tomorrow. I hope you HAVE noticed our request that you hold off on donations while we knuckle down and spend July trying to get things ready for the Big Show? We’d like to concentrate less on hauling things into the building and more on processing what we already have. I have NO idea how to price these toy microbes just yet.)
See, I like the board games and T-shirts and posters and even books which came in in the 153 boxes deposited on the dock last week. But there are tidy souls who only saw the pile of boxes and thought, “That space would be better reserved for hoverboard parking for visiting librarians.” The number of times you blessed my heart will not impress these folks nearly as much as the number of dollars you spend on books signed by Ingrid Bergman.
What I need YOU to work on in July, black cherry cobbler, is not how much more you can drop off but how much you’re going to buy. This is to be the last of the six-room extravaganzas of tradition. In 2018, we will have a whole new first floor, high tech and lovely, and possibly too good for holding book fairs. A smaller, tidier book fair might be what we’re working toward.
The best way to show your support for this big, sloppy, we’ll-take-anything book refuge is not through emails, phone calls, and tweets, but by voting with your bank account. Come and BUY things: empty space where once that set of Are You Being Served DVDs sat speaks louder than a dozen emails saying “Make space so I can donate stuff!” As the great Newberry renovation goes through, only the reflection that “Well, but we SOLD all those copies of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” will convince the Powers What Is to keep thinking about us.
So stop packing paperbacks into lime crates for a while and start planning where you’re going to stack all the art books you’re going to buy in July.
Oh, and this is a special shout out to the sit-down comedian who called me and asked, “Your Book Fair opens on the 27th of July, right? Can I bring you some books on the 26th?” You forgot to tell me what live radio show you were making gag phone calls for. I’m sure your sponsor would appreciate having that mentioned.