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I would rather burn them (was Re: Librarian responds)

>I have some 40,000 volumes in my private book collection, after 50 years
>of collecting. I will never give it over to some public library to
>mindlessly deface. If I do not decide to sell the collection at auction,
>or give it to a private library, I would rather burn them. Art

Dear Art:

I can see how you would prefer to sell your collection, obviously dear to
your heart; and I applaud your willingness to donate it to a private
library. (You do realize that such libraries often deface their books too?
Though usually not mindlessly.) I'm sorry that you can't extend your
generosity slightly further by making these treasured sources of delight
and wonder available to a broader audience via a public library.

I grant you that many members of the great unwashed mass are unworthy and
fail to treat books as the sacred objects they are, but remember that some
are just too poor to actually buy their own or have access to private
libraries, or haven't yet made the committment to the concept of books
being more important than bread. I suspect that you yourself may have used
the public facilities on occasion, perhaps when you were a student.

I grant you too that embossing, rubber stamping, bookplating, carding,
striping and so on are not only unattractive they are distracting to the
eye -- a vulgar blot upon a pristine page. To me, though, it seems a small
enough price to pay in cases where the content justifies its wider
circulation (usually this is the author's intention). Also, regrettably, it
is necessary because so many of our fellows stoop to liberating that which
isn't nailed down or well marked, and don't believe in sharing.

Do you remember that piece of 60s wisdom which said: If you love them, set
them free ... ?

Richard Miller

PS: If you truly believe and intend what you said above you are a sad, sick

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