|Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn look cute surrounded by messy piles of books. |
OK, they look cute everywhere.
Today's post is about the fine line between a collection, and garbage. It is inspired by this article, about a woman who is stuck with her dead neighbour's 350,000 books. Many of the comments suggest that she hire library students to catalogue them, or donate them to a local library.
On behalf of librarians everywhere: LIBRARIES DO NOT WANT THESE BOOKS. Here's a secret: just because you think your books have value, doesn't mean that they have value. Leaving a book at a library may make you feel good about yourself, but know what? Libraries like new books. If you donate your musty old books to a library, even if some of them are partially-singed 1st editions of Black Beauty, library staff are too busy to sort through them. These books will be either sold for $0.10 each or sent off to paper recycling. So skip the middle man and ship these off to be recycled.
|Demeter's "Paperback" scented perfume. Ha! I smell like this every day, I don't need to buy a bottle.|
*Note: feel free to buy me a bottle. I bet it smells nice.
NOBODY WANTS THESE BOOKS. Why should they? If nobody wants something, then it doesn't have any value. These books would probably have more value as pulp at a paper recycling factory than in her house. And, as a library worker, PLEASE DO NOT DONATE THESE TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY.
|Even Karl Lagerfeld doesn't have room for 350,000 more books.|
But this is part of a larger picture. Many people buy stuff that they don't end up using. And because they spent money on these items, they feel that they have value. But if nobody else wants it, and you can't use it? Then it's garbage. How do you know if it's garbage or not? You can try selling it on Ebay and if nobody bids, then either you set up the listing incorrectly, or it is not valuable. You could have a garage sale. If nobody buys it, or even picks it up at the end of the day when you put all the free stuff on the curb, it is not valuable.
|This is the Levi Jeans archivist! How cool a job is that?|
I worked for two summer in archives, where part of my job was to sort through boxes of donated papers. People want to think that everything they've ever touched is valuable, but know what? No archive in the universe wants to keep your old bank statements, even if you are famous for being involved in fraud or something (I don't think it's legal to keep bank statements, anyway, until people have been dead for awhile). You can hoard stuff and then donate it all to a small archives, but know what? You will really annoy that archives' summer students. And who wants that?
So, I don't know. It seems like a fine line between a "collection" and just being a hoarder, whose belongings will eventually be thrown in a landfill somewhere. And it's great when you can recycle or make a craft out of old junk... but sometimes, junk is just junk. And while having a big collection can be fun, it's not so fun for the people left behind after you die, who have to sort it out.
This is maybe an argument in favour if minimalism. I don't know. And I'm not criticizing anybody else! Nor could I, with my "collection" of lip balm and nail polish.