Friday, May 20, 2011


One of the troubles with being a lover of books is that the books pile up, even when you're married to a librarian with his own public library to store books in. Everyone in Lambertville brings his excess books to the library, after all, hoping to find them a good home. But the public library is already full of books. Very few of the donations are put in the collection, and those that are must displace other books, which are thereupon deaccessioned. Which is to say, put on sale. Or worse, recycled.

I can see you blenching at the idea of destroying books. I tell you what, it depends on the books. Some books should have been pulped at birth. It may be that I myself wrote a couple of them. But I digress; I was talking about home storage.

I've never counted the number of books we own. Since the total is a moving target, such an activity would be a waste of time. I do have standards, however. Have the piles on the floor reached my knees? Worse, has Harold begun to stuff books into cardboard boxes? I hate cardboard boxes, unless they're coming in the door with shoes and dresses in them, to be emptied and put out with the recycling, or to be sealed up again with the original contents and sent back to Shoebuy or L.L. Bean or wherever. In no case are cardboard boxes to be filled with books and placed around the house as permanent fixtures.

A few weeks ago I noticed that cardboard boxes full of books were multiplying in dark corners of the house like an infestation of rats. Time to take action. Time to deaccession those books which we can bear to part with. Time to buy more bookcases to hold the rest.

So I went on and ordered three bookcases, just the right size to fit in our back hall as long as no one needs to use a wheelchair to get from our bedroom to the upstairs bathroom, which no one does so far, thanks be to God. They were handsome and inexpensive, made of coarse particle board with a microscopically thin veneer of mahogany, and they came, as you might expect, knocked down. The veneer was cracked and chipped in places but the Chinese manufacturer had kindly included in the plastic bag of parts a felt-tip pen the color of the veneer to fix it.

Shall I tell you of the other defects in quality control? Shall I complain about how the dowels were too narrow to fit snugly into the holes drilled for them, or how one of the cam thingies was not even threaded, or how two of the holes in one of the side pieces were drilled wrong? No. Instead of that I'll brag about how we put the three bookcases together in three days, working alternately and in tandem, switching off parts among the three until all the faults and defective bits (except for the chipped veneer) had been shifted to one last joint, which the resourceful Harold put together with new dowels, Gorilla Glue, and a huge clamp. Now to go load the bookcases up with books.

Probably they won't all fit. Tell you what. If you'd like some books, send me a stamped self-addressed cardboard box.

Kate Gallison

No comments:

Post a Comment