Because of our family’s circumstances this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my ownership of so many books. I’d be very happy, I thought, to share my books with my circle of friends, many of whom now have duplicates of books that I own, and who’d be inclined to be interested in most of the books I have that they don’t (and vice versa). Sadly, we mostly live in widely-distributed locales, and none of us can afford to buy a building to house a collection any place. (My fantasy of being endowed with an informal compound with tons of dry shelf space and dorms and sheds for guests to sleep and write in seems further from realization than ever.)
These thoughts were flitting about my mind when I read Scott McLemee’s column about culling book collections in this week’s Inside Higher Education. I don’t buy nearly as many books as I used to, and the trend is downward, but we still have an enormous theological (and philosophy/literary theory) library. I wish there were a way of maintaining ready access to books that I’ve paid for, while relocating them to another site, one where others could benefit from the library as well.
A random comment from a random reader and random St. Luke’s member…
“I wish there were a way of maintaining ready access to books that I’ve paid for, while relocating them to another site, one where others could benefit from the library as well.”
Be careful what you wish for. My grandfather felt the same way, and found a site that would take them (it may have helped that most of the ordained staff were former students and advisees of his…)
In 1996, I helped move the first load of books up three flights of stairs. After they were all in the library, it took about a year to get them in order and on the shelves. Then everyone realized the space wasn’t large enough, so all the books went back into boxes, down three flights of stairs, and into another building. Ten years latter, they’ve finally finished adding LoC numbers to the book spines, putting them in order on the shelves, and entering them into a computer database. While I’m sure he didn’t think it would be a small project, I’m also pretty sure he didn’t think it would take more than a decade to get the library running.
[Dude, if I were confident I’d be located in Philadelphia near the cathedral, I’d be all over that — and it looks like there are lacunae in biblical studies. . . .]