Drop By (Almost) Any Time | Newberry

Drop By (Almost) Any Time

Is there any family relationship between Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, in the Lord of the Rings, and Vita Sackville-West?

Enid Blyton tried to write fifty books every year, which sold by the thousands in England. So when I was growing up, why did the libraries have only five out of the hundreds of possibilities? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Who gave the makeup director for the latest movie version of Little Women my picture? (I have not seen this movie yet, but someone has told me they sat up sharp in the movie theater and cried “Uncle Blogsy!” They MIGHT let him go to that theater again some day.)

These are a few mysteries which come to a Book Fair manager’s mind during the normal working day. It makes a diversion among all the day-to-day thoughts like “I wonder how Khaled Hosseini’s latest book sold, and if we’ll eventually get as many copies as The Kite Runner” or “How and why did this man collect SO many travel brochures of Berkshire?”

And, of course, there are the eternal mysteries. Why do people donate Baby Books, the kind with snapshots and locks of hair and footprints and birth certificates? Was there no one left in the family to give these things shelf space? Why do people like to use big garbage bags to bring in books, especially the ones they used once already, to collect leaves from the yard?

And then there’s the how and when of people donating books generally.

The past few weeks have been gentle ones, speaking as one who has had to walk to work during a Polar Vortex, when the wind chill reached thirty below. Our wind chill has only been below freezing a few days out of the past thirty-one, and apart from some dark, damp days, we have been having a fairly easy winter so far.

And with a consistency that smacks of conspiracy, the largest donations seem to get dropped off on the damp, drizzly days. And then we get bawled out because we don’t provide a weatherproof container for the donations.

Well, the loading dock (Lampe Landing) does not provide endless space, and right now we have the elevator crews coming in to update our 1960s era cars, and the garbage has to be rolled across the dock to the dumpster. A small weatherproof container would have to be distinctive, so IT wouldn’t get dumped into the dumpster. A LARGE weatherproof container encourages people to turn their shopping bags upside down and dump the books in, which can do terminal damage to the books, and the old 78 record of Stagger Lee that someone dropped off just ahead of you.

Another problem with a weatherproof container is that it is, well, weatherproof. We could, during a storm and/or Polar Vortex find all sorts of four-legged creatures had taken shelter there. (Ask the lady who was going to throw a sandwich wrapper into one of our outdoor trash cans, and found herself confronted by the face of a curious squirrel.) It is not unlikely that we might find some two-legged wildlife curled up inside our book container, too, and THIS would not be better for the books and old records than a couple of squirrels would.

I didn’t mean to spend so much time picking on people who, after all, have an earnest, honest interest in getting their treasures safely to the Book Fair, in spite of the weather. There are more mysterious souls: the ones who insist on repacking their books into boxes we’re trying to throw away, the folks who stack their books right in front of the door, so we knock the books over when we step out to look for donations, the ones who insist on dropping books off on those days when we’re closed….

Oh, BY THE WAY, did I mention that the library is locked up tight on Monday, for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday? Yes, indeed, if you drop off books that Monday, no matter what the weather is, those books will not be brought indoors until Tuesday. And if the weather is bad enough, the mystery might be what that book was before the winds hit it.

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