October 11, 2018

Poetry Friday--Library Discards

For those interested in poetry, one of the best places to discover poets and anthologies is, of course, at a public library. But, I'm sure most librarians will tell you that the poetry section is one of the least used sections in the building.

Libraries have morphed into community centers as opposed to lending libraries and this change has made it imperative that libraries present themselves as attractive. The practice of deaccessioning, a.k.a. weeding--updating the collection by removing books--has become more important. As a public librarian, it is my least favorite thing to do.

If a book of poetry looks old, and, worst of all, if it looks perfectly fine, but no one borrows it, then it goes. Shelf space is valuable--so out with the old, in with the new. We are a consumer society and the new and shiny is what we look for.

With any luck, your public library's discards are put on an ongoing sale table or end up at an annual book sale. Here's where you'll find some wonderful volumes of poetry waiting for you to scoop up and take home--sometimes for pennies.

It is also possible that libraries will sell or give their weeded books and donations to used book stores--real or virtual, and here, too, you'll find poetry winners for little money. I prefer the words inside to the physical form of a book, so I've purchased many used library copies with all their identifying stamps, book pockets, and plastic covers. An old library book may have a story of its own to tell you if you want to take the time to find it!
tucked in the book
receipt from a hotel
I've not visited

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

An old library discard I return to periodically is The Sparrow Bush: Rhymes by Elizabeth Coatsworth with wood engravings by Stefan Martin (© 1966). I snagged it from the "discards-heading-to-the-trash" pile!

Here's a poem from that volume:


Text:

Mud in the road and wind in my hair,
Mud in the road and I don't care,
Snow in the shadows, but the fields are all
                    bare,
And a big black crow is cawing.

Pussy willows close to the bough,
Catkins swinging and greening now,
Chickens feeling perky and kicking up a
                    row,
And a big black crow is cawing.

Sap buckets hanging on our sugar maple tree,
Wild things stirring where no one can see,
I'm waiting for what's going to happen to
                    me--
And a big black crow is cawing.

Laura at Writing the World for Kids is this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up hostess. Stop by, you'll be glad you did!

14 comments:

  1. Oh, thanks for the Coatsworth poem -- so lyrical and rhythmic! You are right about discard piles and used bookstores. Treasures await for those willing to sift through the piles.

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    1. Can't you imagine singing it? I just tried it to the music "Skip to My Lou" and it works!

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  2. Some of my most favorite poetry collections have come from Friends of the Library book sales! I especially love the anthologies because publishers hardly even make un-themed anthologies anymore. (The thought of them going in the trash is sickening.) I'm always up for a crow poem and that wood engraving is pretty spectacular!

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    1. I'm up for crow poems, too! They're one of my favorite subjects to write about, too!

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  3. "And A Big Black Crow Is Cawing" that's a terrific poem and engraving too! My husbands an exhibit designer, and a while back he worked at the Chicago Public Library designing exhibits there–a perk of the job, he brought home some of the lovely discards. Great post, thanks Diane!

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    1. I still have children's books that I picked up at a library sale 30+ years ago, and at that time they were already 20 years old!

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  4. Oh, sister you are singing my song! Yes, those poetry discards are some of my most prized books. I don't care if they are a bit old & musty. They are gems....GEMS! I have been paper crafting over the summer and one of the things I've started to do is gently cut short poems out of old books and use them in crafts. It's a way of giving life to a beloved poem. Great post. You really touched my heart.

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    1. I keep telling people that discards are great for crafting, too!

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  5. Love that poem, Diane!
    My mom worked in a library and I remember as a young person being horrified by the thought of books being discarded. When books in the Art library were weeded out, it was particularly hard to let them throw away all those gorgeous photos/art plates.

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  6. Love both of these, Diane...sad to see the books go, but nice to know they often find homes - and with them, new life.

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    1. Not enough find homes, though. A real shame.

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  7. Your first paragraph made me feel so sad, Diane, but I hope many people discover treasures in the deacquisitioned books. I love your poem--it's a perfect definition of what any great book can do:>)

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    1. Sorry for the dose of sadness. Glad something in the post brought a smile!

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