Santa Blogs XXVI | Newberry

Santa Blogs XXVI

Dear Santa Blogs,

I called the Newberry on Monday to schedule a book pick-up and was told that you don’t pick up books in Athens, Georgia. These are good books; my mom belonged to the Detective Book Club. Are you prejudiced against college towns, or is it just Georgia you won’t bother with, or what?

Held at a Distance

Dear Distant,

I hope that rascal, Uncle Blogsy, has not misled you about the Newberry’s Book Fair. It is, indeed, one of the finest book sales in the nation, but it is not the only one, nor is it the biggest. It is NOT big enough to send sleighs pulled by reindeer to every good collection of books in America.

We HAVE, over the years, had a number of long-distance donations. People routinely mail us books from, oh, Florida, New Hampshire, or California. We have had books delivered by truck from Colorado and, again, Florida. But this is not a distinction we seek out. We don’t like to send our pick-up volunteers (effectively, at the moment, our pick-up volunteer) more than fifty or sixty miles from home base. Nor do we have space, until such time as Powerball picks the right numbers, to be the nation’s Wild Book Refuge. At best, we struggle to make room for all the good books in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area. This has been known to extend across borders into Wisconsin or Indiana, but very seldom reaches Georgia.

I don’t like to leave you in the lurch, Distant, so I have a few suggestions. They can be nothing but generic, but they have served would-be donors in Springfield, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Have you asked at your local library/libraries? They no doubt get offered donations all the time, so they may well have a stock answer. One of them, wiser than the rest, may even have started a book fair of its own, in which case you can do good and clean out as well.

Check with local senior centers. Do NOT just drop off books and run. While some such places are desperate for more good reading material, others have residents who leave behind vast libraries when they push beyond the Great Golden Ultimately. Call first, and be prepared to wait around while they figure out who drew the short straw and is in charge of books.

Look into battered women’s shelters, jails, and other public institutions with people who need to read a good book now and then but without the money to provide a library. Check over the books first, though: some plots are not going to go over well in the shelters, while others are going to displease the warden.

Consider Monday’s column, about giving used books as Christmas presents. Do any of your mom’s friends like the same kind of books? Do YOU have friends who might like a nice old detective novel for beach reading this summer? You’d be surprised how much of a difference some red wrapping paper with snowmen all over it will make.

And no, that doesn’t mean we’ll come pick up your books even if you giftwrap them. Charity, Distant, begins at home.

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