Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Packing books, again...

I'm dealing with a library that has not been moved, dusted or cleaned in what looks like decades...and it's distressing. We're talking about books from as early as the mid-Eighteenth Century to modern volumes, some of them truly wonderful. But they had a problem with mice/rats and roaches...and the tell-tale signs are everywhere -- from droppings and trails to wheat-paste bindings and acid-free pages eaten away. That's what's so distressing. Many of the books are completely ruined, though parts might be salvageable if rebound.

It hurts me to see books in this condition. I understand why this happened; the owner's been unable to get about for some time now, and it seems no one else had really thought about checking the back rooms, where the worst of this was. But still...

They did bomb the place about a year ago and that appears to have driven most of the critters out, if not all. Now everything is getting packed and the new owners of these books will determine what next to do. I'm just working on one portion of the library, which may be the worst area.

I'm reminded of a library of books on magic and games that we packed up for Heritage Book Shop a few months before the owners announced the store would be liquidating...7 years ago. That man had stacks of books all over his 2-bedroom apartment. 12-15,000 of them piled into a maze that only someone skinny could get through. Wasn't easy for me, in parts.

For that, we used 230 banker's boxes, and it took me and another guy four days to complete the job. It wasn't far from the shop so I rented a small U-Haul cube truck to ferry them over, and hired some guys on a street corner to help carry them down from the apartment and upstairs into the store.

Turned out this man was an obsessive compulsive, who had dozens of bottles of cleansers and bags of soap and toilet paper and paper towels and cans of soup...and we had to clear everything out...but aside from the dust, the place was clean. We gave a lot of stuff away.

That library wound up going to a museum, and I didn't have to buy paper towels for the shop till it closed, nearly a year later.

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