Monday, October 12, 2009

Books to the Dumpster

No, not my books, but some CEI books. We will be re-locating to a new building the end of this month, and I volunteered to take responsibility for the library. Before I can back it up I need to delete duplicate and out-dated materials. Before I can know what materials are duplicate and outdated I need to organize it, for materials are scattered due to a faulty systems of original organization and to ten or so years of neglect. Before I can organize it I need to reorganize it to correct the original faults.

Last week I spent parts of four days on it, and managed to pull all the manufacturer's catalogs and brochures together and alphabetize them. I say "all" because I'm still finding some hiding in places. The shelves the catalogs were on did not have enough space for them all, so I had to move them but first had to move some things to make room for them. Then I misjudged the extra space I'd need by about 40 percent. Hence I moved the catalogs beginning with "A" about five times. Last week I also mostly finished pulling all the Federal regulations together and the consensus standards.

Today I worked on State and local regulations and standards. These are the most difficult of all, for it was with these that the original filing system was faulty, IMHO. I won't go into how it was faulty, but it was. I'm probably only a little more than halfway through this task, even though I worked seven hours on it today. I should finish tomorrow and get on to reference materials and project documents.

But this post was about discarding books. Even though I'm not ready to discard duplicates and out-dateds (coined a word), I'm still discarding things. Means' construction cost data from 1999 is kind of meaningless now, so I'm tossing those in a barrel. Broken notebooks don't make sense to keep, so I'm taking them apart, recycling what I can, and discarding what I can't. A few other things are obviously unsuitable for keeping, so those are going. The discard barrel is close to full.

At noon today, instead of walking I decided to carry the 2004 Thomas Registers to the dumpster. I don't know the distant equivalent. It took me four trips from library to dumpster, with about as many books as it was possible to carry. At the end I felt that I'd had an adequate workout. Even though these books are outdated (we have 2008 and 2009 ones), I was sad to see them in a common morgue with the garbage from the break room and the pencil sharpener dumpings from individual trash baskets. These are books, and deserve a better fate than a common morgue followed by a common grave in a dry-bed landfill, to sit there for a hundred years barely decomposing due to lack of moisture.

But we can't keep everything. I'm almost thinking it's foolhardy to even have a library, in this digital age. Surely we can do better than to kill trees for things that become outdated in a year or two. Oh, well, tomorrow I'll begin carrying the barrel contents to the dumpster, before I begin crying over them. At least I get to keep all the textbooks.

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