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[personal profile] wombat1138
I continue to theorize that some librarians just plain hate books.

Yesterday when I got there, there were ungodly numbers of donations piled up, enough that I had to clear out the entire current booksale section and send everything that hadn't sold at our branch since last week off to the main library, just so I'd have somewhere to put the new stuff out. After a few hours, I thought I'd finished, but then peeked into one of three boxes that were stacked up on a cart near "my" desk. More books. The first box was fairly standard stuff-- an entire set of 80s/90s Tolkien editions (including a copy of _Unfinished Tales_ which the owner obviously never finished). It did have some vintage SF/F magazines from the 70s/80s that looked like they might have some resale value on Amazon, so I put those into a bin to send to the Amazon selling crew at Main and kept going.

The second box... ah, the second box. There was an delicate "old book" scent: part mildew, part dust, and part decaying paper/ink. The first item I pulled out was a dainty string-bound pamphlet, maybe about 20pp long and about the size of a large index card, with a textured rice-paper cover. It was in beautiful condition, with bright lithographed illustrations and crisp clean pages. It was an English-language edition of a traditional Japanese folktale, published in Japan in 1938.

I checked the value on Amazon. There's another copy currently selling for $250.

The one I'd pulled out of the box was part of a set of 10+ pamphlets of other Japanese folktales, all of the same age/condition.

These last two boxes almost entirely contained English-language books printed ~1935-1940 inside Japan, many of them about the then-current geopolitical situation and reassuringly saying things like, "We're a modern industrial country with nothing but friendly feelings toward the USA, although we're best buds with those Mussolini and Hitler guys too." There was also a travel book that cheerfully described interesting things to see in Japan proper (including historical features of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and probably large swaths of Tokyo that would get firebombed) as well as the expanded territories of Taiwan, Manchuria, and whatever their name was for occupied Korea. And an adventure-travelogue in which the author described sightseeing throughout the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia that hadn't been occupied yet but eventually would be.

The librarian-normally-in-charge was incredulous when I waved Amazon printouts at her. "I was going to throw all of those away after closing time so patrons wouldn't see me putting books in the dumpster," she said. "They looked so nasty and old." (They're actually in remarkably good condition for their age.) "Why would anyone want to pay that much for something like this?"

("But they're booooooks," I wailed quietly to myself. Still, mission accomplished; she's vowed (at least temporarily) not to summarily discard donation boxes until I have a chance to sweep through them for Amazonable items to send to Main. This may wear off. I have long suspected her of surreptitiously picking off perfectly good books from the booksale and dumpstering them because the booksale area looked too "crowded" or "messy".)

So, most of those two boxes got sent off to the Amazon booksale department. Some of them may be waiting to see me again when I go to Main tomorrow for my Amazon listing/mailing shift. I'm still tempted to carry off the 1946 medical magazine chockfulla ads for reproductive technology and the obligatory "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette" page.

There are valedictory notes inside some of the books that indicate that they were given as gifts when the owner returned from Japan to the US in 1940. The medical magazine has a scrawled ballpoint note on the cover to look at a certain page, which has a group medical-school graduation photo on it. I don't know whether the owner is the one Japanese-American woman in the group, who may've been interned within the US for several years before then.


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