Three months back I happened into the Brownsburg Public Library to do research on a book project. When I sauntered back to the reference section, expecting to find certain sets of reference books waiting for me on the shelves, I discovered that the entire reference section had been swept clean, digitalized onto disks, and placed in the computer system . . . a newfangled tool I have yet to master and one that I most certainly don't use for research.
However, a friendly librarian came to my rescue and suggested that I purchase most of the "leftover" reference books, which were on display in an anteroom near the front. I was amazed to find some of my sought-after titles there, still gathering dust on the shelves at $1 a hardback pop. I walked out of the library that day with a truck bed full of books, the shocks loaded for bear, the chassis dragging the asphalt. And after unloading the books into my office at home, there they have remained, unchanged, in a great heaping pile on the floor for the past three months.
"When are you going to move these stinking books?" Becky asks me every week as she peeks over the top of the great pile.
"I'm not," I tell her. "I have no more shelf space. The floor is now my new shelving system."
"Are you going to read these?"
"No," I say, "these are reference books: The Encyclopedia of American History, The Annals of America, a ten volume set of Church History, etc. A person doesn't read reference books. A person does research with them."
"Well then," says the good wife, "you'd better by gosh be doing some research. I want these out of here. They are an eyesore."
Eyesore? I don't know what this means. How can three hundred pounds of books be considered an eyesore? Or for that matter, how can the three thousand titles that I've amassed?
Still, I get it . . . from a woman's perspective. A broom and a mop have to go somewhere. An obelisk-sized pile of books doesn't exactly make the home decor issue of Better Homes and Gardens.
There are a lot of reasons to get rid of these books, I know. But I keep reminding her that she will always have something to read.
And somewhere, in those stacks, I might even have a title or two I can no longer find.