I woke up to some unsettling news regarding the book population of New York City this morning.
At 2am est last night, while Occupy Wall Street was getting booted from Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park by the city, one of the first live reports I heard was that the NYPD had thrown away the entire contents of the 5,554 book library that was being maintained in the Occupy camp. For some reason, though the entire event involved horrifying reports of one type or another, the idea of the city throwing away this many books really unnerved me.
When I was in college I had a semi-friend who, at the end of one semester, casually raised her intention of throwing away her school books for that term. She was, to be fair, taking a really boring course load and most of the books she had were books she would never need, that no other person would ever need, and that really should not have existed.
Still, a friend of mine intervened because she knew, as all civilized/awesome/real people do, that throwing away books is sacrilegious. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want them or need them, the beauty of a book is that it contains pages of information that cannot be unwritten. Also, throwing away books conjures up images of book-burnings, which are essentially a melodramatic version of a book throwing-away party and are not to be tolerated by openminded, kind, educated people.
So, I found myself trudging across a muddy quad with my friend-with-a-conscience to see if she could sell our semi-friend’s books back to the book store. Several of them were books that my friend-friend already had and that, as it turned out, the school bookstore did not want. We returned with bags that were almost as heavy as the ones we had started with, but did my friend throw away the books after all of that trudging and general annoyingness? No. Of course not. My friend packed them up and put them in storage for the summer and faced the same issue again the next year because SHE KNEW SHE COULD NOT THROW THEM OUT.
So…5,554 books in a New York City dumpster.
It was in the New York City public schools that I learned that books are to be passed along, not thrown away. I realize that books are also paper and sometimes dusty and torn and stuff, but respecting books is the closest thing I have to a religious belief. I just believe that books don’t belong in the trash. I also think most people agree, even people who hate reading.
So yes, I’m feeling sympathy pains for a pile of books. Go hug a nice big volume of some sort, friends. The book community faced a big loss today and they need your support.
For information about the library that was lost, including the catalogue of the books that were THROWN AWAY, check here: http://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/