Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Book Rescue

Is it a normal practice for school libraries to discard old books and reading materials when replenishing their stock? If indeed it is, what is their rationale in doing so?

Aren't libraries supposed to be repositories of knowledge, hallowed grounds where the sanctity of books is preserved and every single book is priceless?

As a book lover, this question has been preying on my subconscious ever since I discovered a stack of well-bound story books in the house of CN, a teacher friend, some time back.

The books were 'rescued' from, of all places, her school library. The irony wasn't lost on her either. When CN found them, they were earmarked for the bin, stacked in the open as trash, awaiting collection by the garbage men.

She said her heart bled looking at those books treated so shoddily. She just didn't have the heart to see such good books simply thrown away willy-nilly, so she discreetly carted some home. I don't know, but I think the librarian should be hauled up and severely reprimanded.

I am not talking about books with loose binding, missing pages, fraying covers and torn edges either (even if they are, there still is no justification in chucking them away). I am talking hardly-read books in reasonably good condition.

I asked CN what she wanted to do with those books littering her spare room. With a mischievous glint in her eyes, she said: "I think I will give them to a friend of mine who lives in Taman Tun Dr Ismail in KL. She loves reading and collecting old things and these books fit both bills!"

These are among the titles that I received from CN. I have gone through them all, and then some. They are good for lightweight reading on lazy afternoons while sprawled on an oversized sofa surrounded by dainty little cushions.

  • One Chinese Moon (J Tuzo Wilson) - true account of a Canadian scientist's travels in interior China in 1958.
  • The Far Province (Francis Cripps) - true account of an Englishman's one-year teaching stint in early 1960s rural Thailand.
  • Amazon Journey (Barrie McBride) - one man's expedition from Peru to Brazil by way of the great Amazon River.
  • One Chilly Siberian Morning (Douglas Botting) - the travels of two British filmmakers into Siberia and Central Asia.
  • Good Citizens (Amabel Williams-Ellis) - specifically written for teens, the book describes the lives of nine English men and women who achieved recognition as scientists, artists and reformers.
  • The Consul At Sunset (Gerald Hanley) - details the story of a small 'incident' and a few years in the lives of a few people in Italian Somaliland when it was administered by the British Military Administration.
  • The Province of the Heart (Phyllis McGinley) - a charming, provocative book comprising many short stories that warm the heart.

Thank you once again, CN, for your kindness and generosity. And keep those books coming!


MrsNordin said...

These titles seem to be good read. Why did they ever chuck them away? Sayang. Books should always be kept, if not given away to someone else who may benefit from them. Kalau tabloid/magazines, lain lah... itu pun kadang2 sayang nak buang.

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

The pages were yellowing and nobody seemed to baca them. So to the librarian's sempit mind, baik buang aja so the library can hv extra space for buku baru. I read them, and they are interesting books. This is the problem la Mrs N, by and large our students don't read. full stop. such a pathetic state of affairs in our sekolah..

bergen said...

I reckon at the end of the day, it's about how much space you've got. It's the same thing with memories (hardisk, that is) You gotta clean up the hardisk once in a while to load in new stuff. Or you can increase the RAM but it's not the same thing with library. New books keep coming in and the old ones have to be thrown away to make up the space.

It's the same thing with people, I guess. You find a new love, and the old one has gotta go. It's about space. Hmm, this reminds me of a line in one of Clint Eastwood movie.

'This town is too small for the two of us. One of us has gotta go.'

It's about space.

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

LOL Bergen... punya la kering hati..:) :)

Seriously though, I think instead of buang, why not donate to orphanages or such places.. I, for one, langsung don't have th heart to buang books..magazines I don't mind (tu pun pilih 10 kali which ones to keep and which ones to go).

Pi Bani said...

I agree, daripada buang baik donate mana-mana. While clearing up my house recently, I found a whole stack of old storybooks belonging to my nieces and nephews yang memang terperap dalam kotak tak siapa baca dah. I needed to clear the space like Bergen mentioned, tapi tak sampai hati le pulak nak buang. So I collected them all and handed over the whole box to the family I visited recently. The children loved the books.

Dr. Azhar said...

Am not lazing on a oversize sofa but the first title of list of books caught my eyes. As a student I grew up reading about the hypothesis of plate tectonics by the Late Tuzo Wilson, the eminent Canadian geophysicist and marine geologist. I am not aware that he travelled into the interior of China too.. perhaps I can borrow that book to read.

Slam aka the geowanderer

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

That's the way to go, kan Pi? At last our conscience is clear and at the same time others benefit from it.

Slam, you are most welcome to One China Moon. We will meet soon, Insyaallah (if you don't go trekking all over Peru and Antartica, that is).

danina said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

I'm a librarian myself. It's very sad to hear/know that the librarian did that. If the book is not readible anymore (dah reput dimakan anai-anai ke), then it will be a different case. But we will never, ever through away book into the dustbin. Kerja gila tu!. Well, maybe he/she is not a trained and qualified librarian. There is a weeding guidelines and a certain criterias that you need to follow before you weed your collection. For us(I think most of the libraries do this), we will donate outdated book, duplicate copy etc, to other parties. You'll never know how many libraries,Yayasan, or sekolah anak2 yatim, especally yg bajet ciput2 tu, willingly to accept the books.

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

W'salam Danina. Thanks for the explanation. At least I am no longer left wondering.:) Mungkin benar like you said she isn't a trained or qualified librarian. Her action tak munasabah kan?

dewdrop said...

bergen sounds like a one-woman man!

Puteri Kamaliah at-Tarawis said...

hehehe..i think bergen has been a one-woman man many times over..tak gitu bergen?