Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where Books Go When they Die

Here's a funny take on a serious problem. All over America, libraries are shedding books fast. The idea that many books -- not just a few -- should be preserved is starting to seem very Old Media. In the passage below, when you read "Jasper Dash," think "Tom Swift."

Often, if you go to a town library and under Keyword Search type "Jasper Dash," you'll come up with a list of his books -- and beside each one, it says: "Withdrawn. Withdrawn. Withdrawn. Withdrawn." This means that they are no longer in circulation. Some librarian has taken them off the shelf, wiping away a tear, and has opened the book to the back, where there's a pouch for a card dating back to the time of the Second World War, and she'll crumple up the card, and then she and her fellow librarians will take special knives and slice away at the book and will eat the pages in big mouthfuls until the book is all gone, the whole time weeping, because they hate this duty -- it is the worst part of their job -- for here was a book that was once someone's favorite, but which now is dead and empty. And the little cheerful face of Jasper Dash, heading off to fight a cattle-rustling ring in his biplane, will still be smiling pluckily as they take their Withdrawal Knives and scratch his book to pieces.

--from The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen: M.T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales,by M.T. Anderson, p. 7.

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