Several weeks ago, a cart of free books appeared on the lower level of the Calarco library. Frequenters of the space would peruse the selection, grab some choice items, and continue on with their days. As time passed, the word spread and the newbies began to appear – sometimes solo, often in pairs. They would whisper furtively to each other (or to themselves, which was weird), sneaking hurried glances at the nearest librarian as they discreetly slipped books into backpacks and tote bags. Just as the Hopkins community breathed a sigh of relief – only the worst of the worst books were left – we clever librarians cycled out the rejects and stocked the cart with a fresh batch of alluring volumes.
The anticipation grew, and we observed as students, faculty and staff once again put themselves through the stress and anxiety of trying to “steal” library books.
And we laughed. We chuckled. We snickered to each other. We pointed and guffawed, “Look at them! They think they are doing something wrong – how endearing!”
Where there is a school, there are books. Lots and lots of books. While our love for books is boundless, the shelves are not. The enclosed space of the Calarco Library has limits, and so do the enclosed walls of a Library Department meeting. Last year, we would sigh as we sifted through books 12 copies of The Complete Collection of Mark Twain or The Future of Soviet-U.S. Relations ©1972. We would walk through the library and find each other buried under books that had fallen off the overburdened shelves. As I extracted Mrs. Dubois from a pile of Microsoft Word for Dummies ©1994 and Recent Advances in Genetics ©1998, she furiously declared that she could not even find a copy of Hogwarts: A History, by Bathilda Bagshot.
In that moment, two things became clear:
- Mrs. Dubois needed to see a doctor, and
- The library desperately needed to undergo spring cleaning
It was decreed during a Library Department meeting that the weeding of books, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes (yea…), etc. would henceforth commence ASAP, ending only when the dust settled and victor had been declared.
There can only be one victor. And it will be us – the librarians.
Treat yourself to the spoils of a hard-fought war and visit the library to explore the latest free books. We will be offering even more to the Hopkins community before the school year is over, so keep an eye out for more “FREE BOOKS!” announcements.
Good luck you, young soldiers. We wish you courage and bravery as you build your own home libraries, and we offer only one piece of advice to those who must commence their own book purge.
Be bold. Be merciless. And take no prisoners.
-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who amid dust, debris, and loose pages, waves fists in victory as she runs through the liberated shelves)