John Clark with a shorter than usual (for me) post. I don’t have a lot of hobbies. Golf, skiing, water craft and snowmobiling don’t interest me. Gardening does, but doesn’t cost much, sweepstaking tends to pay for itself, so I have little in the way of discretionary expenses in retirement save one—Books.
I freely admit to having an untreated addiction to them. As a friend commented not long ago, they’re gluten and fat free, low in cholesterol and frequently enhance one’s thinking and imagination. Besides, authors put a lot of work into getting them right, so why not toss a few bucks their way. Since I seldom read a book more than once, that means I must find new homes for the ones I’ve read or alas, have given up on because they just couldn’t keep my interest.
95% of what I read is in the young adult genre and a year ago, I put the word out on the Maine Library listserv (Melibs-L) that I’d be happy to share a list of ones to be given away with libraries interested in them. In short order, I had 21 replies, so I created an entry in my email address book so one message would go out to all of them. Over the past year, I’ve passed on more than a hundred books and have learned some things in the process. First there are plenty of libraries who want to provide a decent collection to their teen patrons. Many, and the number includes a lot of high school libraries, have extremely limited funds. Some of the libraries on my list don’t specify titles, they simply respond with “we’ll take any we can get.”
You might think most of these libraries would be in rural parts of the northern portion of Maine, but one of the libraries that responds almost immediately is a high school library in a fairly wealthy community. Even their collection development funding is tight.
I contrast this with many of the books my daughter and I have bought at the Greenwich CT library book sale. Some YA fiction had been added less than a year prior to the sale. The same thing happens in larger libraries across the country as I get books weeded in some of my swaps on Paperbackswap.com that were published in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
I’ve come to think of all this as economic geography. A book that has lost most of its collection value in one place will have a much greater value and longer life in another. How we can make this happen more easily and more often is the challenge. What do you do with your no longer wanted books?
PS the photos are from my trail camera over a two night span under one of our apple trees.