Friday, May 16, 2008

Take Stuff From Work

One of the deep, dark, dirty secrets in libraries is how much they get rid of every year, every month, every week and every day. While some people I work with seem to relish the duty because it makes space for newer items, I always feel guilty. I'm afraid of getting rid of undiscovered literary gems or a non-fiction title that really teaches something new.

Of course a number of books are removed because they are in bad shape, but many are weeded because no one ever checked them out. The general rule of thumb where I work is to pull a book if it goes through a period of 16 months without a check out to its record. I'll often see first novels by writers who just never got lucky enough to land a review in the NY Times or the Washington Post, oddball non-fiction, and poetry. There's almost always lots of poetry going out our door and in the trash.

The worst part is we're not allowed to sell these in the annual booksale. We apparently used to do that, but people complained about their tax dollars going towards the purchase of books to only have them sold as used books a year later. So now they go right in the trash, unless someone on staff wants to take them home. These are the five I saved yesterday.

Books I saved from the library

Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension. by Michio Kaku. This guy's been growing into one of the best known physicists in America. I first heard of him when this book came out in 1994. It's a great compilation of crazy sci-fi theories and how they have influenced real scientific thought. Fascinating, easy to read and fun. This one, I should note, is in pretty bad shape. It's got a pretty ugly coffee stain on the back and the front cover is barely hanging on.

Chris Ware: Monographics by Daniel Raeburn. Seeing as how the library I work at doesn't have any actual books by Ware, it was probably a strange purchase to begin with. Basically it's a celebration of Ware's work in comics, with reproducitons of pages of his work, covers of books and odd merchandising like a Jimmy Corrigan lunchbox. This one's partly my fault. While I've flipped through it, I hadn't bothered to check it out yet.

My Dad's a Punk. edited by Tony Bradman. This one's also my fault. I saw it when it first came in, meant to check it out and promptly forgot. The volume collection twelve short stories about teens with dad's who maintain a bit of good ol' punk spirit. With authors like Tim Wynne-Jones, it's probably a good collection, but unfortunately short story collections just don't check out that much.

We Saw Lincoln Shot: One Hundred Eyewitness Accounts. compiled/edited by Timothy S. Good. The title pretty much sums this one up. The book's in great shape, and it looks to be a real gem of first-person accounts. I'll be giving this one to Jim, an old friend of mine who's a big civil war buff.

The Way to Rainy Mountain. by N. Scott Momaday. Seeing this one on the discard pile almost made me cry. Momaday's a fantastic writer and I love mythology of any kind. This title collects a number of short-short tales based on myths of the Kiowa tribe. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.



Maktaaq said...

All of those sound like stuff I would read. I knew that libraries did this when I visited a librarian friend and she showed me how to look up books that hadn't been taken out for a while.

I'll keep this in mind and take out any book that sounds interesting just to keep it in circulation, even though I don't have enough time to read it now.

Hebdomeros said...

Lord knows I don't have the time either. I have a huge to-read pile so I really have no business checking things out from work. But sometimes you just want to keep a book alive, hoping that if it's there long enough someone else will stumble upon it and enjoy it. It's even enough to check it out and return it all in the same visit, you don't even need to take it home.