Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slice of Life, #22

            My apartment building has a basement lending library. Someone moved out and left a bookcase, and someone on our co-op board thought it would be nice if residents donated books they no longer wanted to share with their neighbors. Soon enough, the shelves were filled with bestsellers and old paperbacks, 20-year-old travel guides and discarded chemistry textbooks, picture books and YA novels. (From the beginning we said, “No magazines!” but some forget.)
            Periodically one resident is in charge of keeping the bookshelves neat; currently that is my job. The first thing I did was sort: all the fiction on two shelves, all the children’s and YA books on two shelves, all the nonfiction on the remaining shelf. Next, I threw away (don’t gasp, it was as hard for me as it would be for you to toss a book) the textbooks and any travel book older than four years. A guide to New York City restaurants from 2000? More than half of them will be closed by now. Computer manuals for long-superseded software and operating systems? Gone.
            I found friends and neighbors who know of organizations that take children’s and YA books, like Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, and they have come and taken books away. And some of the fiction and nonfiction have moved out. But more and more are pouring in.
            The fiction currently available ranges from Stephen King and Dean Koontz to Barbara Kingsolver and Julian Barnes, as well as classics like Edith Wharton and Shakespeare (paperback of Othello). The kids’ books include many Nancy Drews and Junie B.s and some Lemony Snicket and Suzanne Collins, among others.
            A PLEA: if you know of any schools or organizations in New York that could use gently used books and are willing or able to come for them (I don’t have a car), please let me know. Once the weather gets nicer, I can donate many to Housing Works, but the shelves are getting close to overflowing now. To throw away a book is painful, but the bookcase cannot get any bigger than it is.


  1. This reminds me of the "Little Libraries" we have here in Wisconsin. It is similar, but these lending libraries are little (almost like over-sized mailboxes) and in the front yard of homes, schools or restaurants. I love the idea!

  2. I love these libraries popping up. A neighbor has built a small one outside her home. It kinda looks like a birdcage. Neighbors love putting books in even more than taking them out!

  3. I've heard about those Little Libraries. In Brooklyn, people put books out on the sidewalk in front of their house and in Manhattan I've seen books in a box on the street. There are a couple of men who sell books on the street in my neighborhood, and I've tried giving to them, but they haven't taken much. Not salable, I guess.