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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

If a Book could Talk

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 11, 2009

What if a book could talk?

 

What stories could it tell?  Where has it been?  Who has it met?

 

Think about it, if you were a book about writing resumes for job searches.

 

You would be standing with your friends on the shelf, with the Dewey Number of 658 on your face, peeking out to the users of the library.

 

As each person passes, you hope that the next person will pick you to take home with him or her.

 

Finally, a man removes you from the shelf, and skims through your Table of Contents, and then your Index, and with a slight nod, he carries you to the desk.

 

The librarian picks you up, and runs you back and forth under the scanner, and with a beep of the computer you are off with your new friend.

 

At home, the man carefully reads several pages and works on his computer writing a new resume.

 

He seems to like the information you have on page 142, and the sample resume on page 160.

 

When he is finished with you, you take another trip in the canvas library bag back to the library, where you ride a book truck back to your home on the shelf.

 

What would probably be more interesting would be the journey of some of the books that arrive in the library's Mending Department.

 

I have done mending on library books for almost 40 years, and have always wondered what happens to those poor books that arrive in Mending.

 

About 200 books each year have an "encounter" with the family dog, which chews books because of the glue in the spine.

 

Unfortunately, most of these books must be retired from the library and the dog's owner is billed for the replacement of the book.

 

Sometimes the chewing is just on a corner of the book, and a repair is possible.

 

Many years ago we had someone tell us that a goat had chewed the library book, which we assumed to be possible.

 

Some library books needing mending appear to have been skidded along the ground, or encountered a mud puddle.

 

Others are lost for a long time under a car seat, in a car trunk, under the sofa, or under a bed.

 

Regardless, we have tricks to restore books, replace pages, and produce new jackets for the next user.

 

Mending also extends to CDs and DVDs that can be resurfaced and buffed of dirt and scratches found in the surface.

 

Again, assuming that a DVD goes from the case to the player, it doesn't seem possible for mud to appear on the surface of the disc.

 

What I enjoy seeing is a book that needs mended because it has been checked out over 100 times, and the repair is simply the result of wear and tear and usage.

 

Remember the man who gave two copies of a book to the library so one could be used by the "little urchins" who always get a book dirty, and the other can use viewed by everyone else who worries that a book will get dirty.