Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spines and Pages and Words and Phrases, pt. 2

I went home for Christmas and set myself to organizing my old books. I brought home two boxes of older political science texts from Denver, so I managed to at least make a small dent at my apartment. Looking through my room back home, though, made me want to reconsider the entire endeavor. There was, quite literally, nowhere to walk.

My bed was clear, but only because I had to have somewhere to sleep! I spent the better part of two days going through my many boxes and bookshelves, placing things into three categories:
  1. Give to local library - I don't need it or I don't want it. Seriously, how many 1950s criticisms of Hegel does one really need?
  2. Give to Mom and Dad or other people in my life - These books can be moved immediately to new ownership.
  3. Keep - I either need them or really can't bring myself to give them up. My rare/old books will stay, as will many of what I might refer to as seminal texts in my personal/professional development.
So once that was all done, I packed up the Taurus and headed into the Franklin Grove Public Library. My mom used to be the librarian there, but that was years ago, and the place has since expanded and moved into a brand new building in the center of town. I started dumping the books in the storage room, and I think after the 20th box, the librarian might have had second thoughts! After I had finished that (first!) load, I stopped into my storage unit, still full of stuff from my old apartment in the Chicago suburbs. I ended up with another dozen or so boxes in the back of the Taurus and headed back to the library. I unloaded all of them - 35 boxes in total. My best estimate of the total number of books is somewhere between 900-1400. That's a lot. I was thanked for my donation and I drove my broken back on home.

Even by the low numbers, the amount of books that I dropped off at the library is extreme - it's more than many people will even see in a lifetime. And as much as I wanted to send them to some developing country where students truly hunger for new texts, such things are cost and time prohibitive. I was on a time crunch and I already work for a nonprofit that does its best overseas. Those aren't excuses, merely my frustration. Ideally, I would have taken off another week of work and transported the books to some organization in Chicago that could have helped.

Still, it felt really, really good to get all those old books out and into the hands of people for whom such texts might hopefully be an inspiration and educational resource.

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