For Your Thoughts | Newberry

For Your Thoughts

I understand; really, I do. You get the chopsticks as souvenirs from the restaurant, or as freebies with your takeout order, and they wind up on your desk. But why do they come to us with your book donations? Did you put them on your bookshelves with all your books on Asian culture? If you were using them as bookmarks, shame on you. But maybe you used them as pointers when giving friends and relatives a tour of your library. In any case, unless they have gold fittings, we’re not awfully interested in them. And the Newberry, in its wisdom, does not collect chopsticks, so they are not going to wind up in the collection.
(If you wanted to show off where you eat dinner, this is not necessary, either. We can figure that out from the takeout bags you used to bring us the books.)
Some of the things we get in are unusual but comprehensible, like this large collection of single squares of toilet paper. (I know where you did most of your reading, friend.) Other things which come in with the books are a little harder to understand.
Once upon a time, for example, we had an inordinate number of pushpins. Not that people donated entire boxes full. We’d get one or two with donations, tucked in a corner of the box where it could turn up at the wrong moment and surprise the unwary sorter. I am pretty sure the donors weren’t using pushpins as bookmarks. Either it was the same as with the chopsticks—they happened to be on the desk and got caught up when the books were being piled up for donation—or someone was moving and sorted the books into boxes which had already been used for moving desk and/or office material. The pushpin donation was accidental, so I can’t blame the donor for the puncture wounds.
And why have the pushpin appearances slackened? Maybe now that we have email and Instagram, fewer people actually need bulletin boards.
Things which could legitimately be used as bookmarks I understand: paperclips (bad), business cards (better), or cash register receipts from bookstores (best of all.) Hardly any of you seem to have used fifty dollar bills for this person, but I would not be puzzled if some of those turned up. Just explain the pennies.
Sometimes we find dimes, sometimes nickels; on occasion we find a quarter. But for any one of those larger coins we find half a dozen pennies. As with the pushpins, we seldom get more than one or two to a box. Some people pass over these with a shrug, or with a murmur of “Easy money.” But where do they come from?
“What’s the problem?” volunteers have asked me. “Haven’t you ever had things full out of your shirt pocket while packing books?”
Who carries their change in a shirt pocket? Especially pennies, which can really accumulate in a city with a seven cent tax on plastic grocery bags. Perhaps you work late nights at establishments where customer tuck money into your, um, collar, but you should change your clothes before you pack books at home and, if I may offer even more unsolicited advice, if you’re working in a spot where they use pennies, you should probably consider getting into some other line of work.
Or perhaps you were just taking a break from book packing to demonstrate to a doting grandchild how you can pick up pennies with those chopsticks you keep in your bookcase. THAT may explain it.

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