Monday, October 19, 2009

Thoughts - On buying a library

I bought a library this weekend. Yes, you read that, a whole library. I was at an auction from a wonderful old house down the road from me, an estate sale. Most everything was selling high, which was fine, I don't need much and I was there more for the atmosphere and people watching. Cheap and delightful entertainment.

There were a lot of antique dealers there snarfing up the good stuff at good prices so I quickly settled into the mindset that I wasn't going to buy anything and just enjoyed the crisp autumn air and the parade of antiques and curiosities being auctioned off.

Then at one point, they put up the library. All the books, maybe a few hundred of them, that were in the built in bookshelves along the walls in the house. I had vaguely seen them but had no idea what was in them, and didn't give a thought to bidding.

After all, I already have a library. I've been collecting books since I was single the first time and I have walls of them in my little Vermont house. I still buy books, but sparingly, aware that with some size constraints, I have to protect myself from being swallowed by the things, which could easily happen. Yes, I could end up being one of those nutty old professor types whose whole house smells of ancient tomes and cats.

No one bid on the library.

That blew my mind. They had sold a couple of small lots of antique books for far more money than I could afford, so I figured these would go for a small fortune. The asking price in the auction began at a thousand dollars, then five hundred, then a hundred, then fifty, then forty.

I bid. And no one else did. Bang! I owned a second library. I'll be going over in my trusty Isuzu trooper this afternoon and loading it up.

My first thought was "what am I doing to do with all these books?" But after that, I calmed down. I'll pick through for a few that sing to me, pick out some more I think family and friends might like, and have already contacted the Pawlet library about taking the rest, either for their shelves or for the annual book sale they do. There's also a reading/loaner program for teaching people to read that might be able to use them.

Intially, because I love my books, I thought "how sad that no one wants this collection of a lifetime.", but I got past that feeling. I wanted them, and in the end, while they won't be together, they'll get into the hands of many, many people who also love books. So there is gain, in a way.

When I thought about it that way, it was forty dollars very well spent. I'm itching to get over there and load them up now.


An Update (since some of you asked).
I loaded up the Trooper over my lunch hour today, sorting through the books as I did so. I pulled out about 40 books for myself, some on religion, some on history, and a few poetry books. There were some old bibles in there that were marvelous. (I am a semi collector of such things), and some 19th century religious books, which I also have a weakness for.

I pulled out a few art books from a friend I have made here in Vermont, and a slew of cookbooks and some books on birds from the lady I love up here. The rest, about 12 boxes, will go to the local library for their use or to sell in their yearly book sale.

The real treasures were newspapers. There was a stack of old newspapers at the bottom of the shelves and they were real find. There were several from when the Titanic went down, which will go to my daughter, a total Titanic freak, and a group of papers from the days of and just after JFK's assassination, which I will either sell or donate somewhere, as well as some with other signicance, like Amelia Earhart's disappearance, etc. I felt like I had gone back in History.

It's all in the back of the Trooper for now. I'll unload the ones I am going to keep or give to dear ones later today, then get the others to the library when they can take them. All in all, I got so much more than my few dollars worth here. I found a real treasure to enjoy, and share.


PS - The picture is of one of the Titanic papers. You can click on it for a larger version.


The Good Life in Virginia said...

had i been there i would have bid on them...what a shame that they sold for only $40. but, i am happy to hear of your plans for them :)

willow said...

You're a man after my own heart.

(Give us an update after you bring them home in the Trooper. We had a trusty Trooper, stick shift for years, btw.)

Shadow said...

a library??? well what do you know... you're a lucky guy. soon to be even more well read.

Leonora said...

Wow! My heart skips a beat thinking of obtaining a library of surprise titles for a mere $40. I think it was money very well spent... and you'll be spreading the wealth around. said...

What a serendipitous opportunity! What riches! What good gifts!

You had to bid.

Glad you did.