Monday, September 08, 2003

And my best friend, my doctor

A few weeks back I received a phone call at work from a lady who wanted to donate her late husband's book collection to the library. Right off the bat she praised his collection of books and professional journals and wanted to donate them to us so that we could use the items to start a psychiatry collection.

I tried the usual tactic of 'splaining that we were a public library and would not have the space of the need to start a psychiatry collection and that we would prefer items in donation that would be sellable in our book sale although some items do get put in the collection a majority of our donations end up being sold to raise money for new books. As is the usual response of those with a collection of books they consider valuable she reiterated the value of her husband's lifetime collection of material and how it would be extremely useful in starting a collection of books about psychiatry.

When faced with such blind obstinance there is no other option but to inform her that we would be happen to accept her donations and we will give them a looksee. The books came later that week and the books and journals are even worse than I hoped. Half the books are moldy and the majority of them are from before 1980.

After seeing how useless these books are after having spoken to the dead psychiatrist's wife on the phone her desperate need to assert that this moldy pile of books must have some value is depressing. Is it so hard to admit that these books are moldy? That they may be out of date and no longer be relevant? Why is it wrong to be irrelevant? It's like she felt that if her husband's books were no longer useful then whatever tiny bit of legacy he may have left behind is then nullified.

What would cause this woman into such denial? Did she put too much value in his professional accomplishments? She was old enough to come from time when that could very commonly be the case. I just hope she has her own personal collection of books she was unwilling to part with. More than likely her books would be more valuable to us than the pile of refuse festering in our basement.

Reading: "Through the magic of marketing, the recording industry has made something otherwise worthless into a precious commodity, restricted public access to it by making the prices ridiculously high (have you seen what they're charging for CDs these days?!), and then screaming bloody murder when a black market develops."

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