The Old New-Books Blues


Melancholy. That’s the word I would use to describe yesterday’s mood. No, it was not the weather, the dense clouds, the snow. Well, maybe that explains part of the story, but not all of it. It’s the books.

Every library has a “new books” section, a special, prominent shelf where the new books spend their first weeks at the library. Books arrive shiny and new, with spotless covers and pristine spines. They are cataloged and processed, covered and stamped. They are displayed on the “New Books” case in an attractive manner. And then they wait.

If only they could talk, they might yell or plead or whisper, “Pick me. Pick me!”
“I have just the information you need for your paper.”
“I have a great story to tell.”
“I know a secret.”
But “New Book” status only lasts so long. As books are purchased, others must give up their coveted spot and join the ranks of circulating books in the stacks. Hence, the melancholy. Emptying the shelves is rather sad. So many books have gone untouched. Some great stories have been overlooked. Great laughs and memorable characters have been missed. Will these books be discovered among the rank-and-file, or will they land in the discard pile five years from now having never been checked out even once?

The new semester begins in a few days. Thirty new books have arrived, dressed for the big dance and determined not to be wallflowers. Like their predecessors, they are cataloged and processed and artfully arranged. Blank date-due slips wait to be filled like old-fashioned dance cards. Words sparked to life in their author’s imagination silently wait to be born again in their readers.

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