Friday, April 11, 2008

Not exactly a gentleman burglar

I staged a daring daylight raid on the Friends' booksale room at work today. It felt deliciously dangerous, although the danger involved in taking a couple books out of two large boxes brought in by a senile woman who would likely never see them again was admittedly pretty small.

I had helped the head of the Friends bring in books from her car for the booksale room when I spotted two Series of Unfortunate Events books that we don't have in the library (not hard, since we only had three), a Dear America book and Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs and Full-Front Snogging. Which is to say, four very popular children's/YA books in great condition that we don't have in the library, about to be sold for 25-75 cents.

Later that day, I listened to the Friend's head tell my manager that how well the booksale room is doing, selling lots of children's books. Last weekend, they made $45. Which don't get me wrong, is incredibly good for a used book sale of that type. But it's at that point my head exploded. Because $45 is about what it would cost to buy those books I saw for the library, and I don't like to even think how many books they had to sell to get that $45. So I decided it was time to do a little liberation in the name of greater efficiency. Just call me a Gilbreth guerilla. I waited until she left, took the keys and went down to the booksale room and took the damn books, and cataloged them within an inch of their lives. And I'll probably do it again, dammit.*

It's really not such a hard concept, is it? That new, clean books are more appealing that 40-year-old crumbling books and are therefore much more likely to attract people who want to check them out? Apparently one of the ways the booksale room is doing so well is by getting rid of old, lousy books. Well, guess what? I'd like to do that in the library too, except I need something to replace them with. So you might understand then why I had to count to ten a couple times when a few weeks ago the head of the Friends said to me that she felt all donated books should go to the booksale room since the library already has plenty of books. Um, yes. We do. Plenty of crumbling, 40 year old books and a children's non-fiction section that would have been an excellent educational resource for children in 1970.

She's an elderly woman and going senile, so I'm not inclined to start picking fights with her. But it gets hard not to snap a bit when every time she comes in, she looks over the donated books in queue to be cataloged and asks speculatively if they're being added to the library. Stay away from my books, old woman. I have book tape and I'm not afraid to use it.

* I'm actually going to get a budget for adding to the children's section soon, so the book turf wars will hopefully get better at that point. But that's soon in Park Commission time, which is to say I'll be lucky if it happens before the next geologic era comes around.

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