Maintaining A Library.

Post retirement, my one indulgence is reading. I am a prodigious reader and buy books all the time. Every time I come across a reference to some book in something that I read, even some comment or a post in a blog, I immediately send for it. Mostly, I buy online as, the book is delivered at my doorstep and I find that the cost including the shipping costs comes to be lower than if I were to go into town to buy the book.

My collection, sizable as it was when I retired has been building up at a nice clip. Since I stay in an apartment however, space to store is a problem. I therefore have a periodic clean up and get rid of books that I do not intend reading or referring to again. These are mostly novels and short stories.

I have a mini library near my bed, where all the new unread books are kept till I move them one at a time to the drawing room where I read during the daytime. From there, the books move to the actual library, which is located at the landing of the first floor. A space had originally been created for a wardrobe, where I have made a library.

To add to my own collection, my son too is an avid reader and since he too buys books, mostly fiction, the library is quite a substantial one.

The problem with the library however is the need to keep the books dusted and clean and the shelves too cleaned and aired. Once in every few months I remove all the books from the shelves, rearrange them by subject and after dusting and wiping them, arrange them in a systematic manner all over again. With frequent removal, replacement and additions, it gets disorganized all over again in a few months and so the exercise has to be repeated.

In carrying out this exercise, I inevitably take the help of our handyman Yakob, about who I have already written in one of my earlier posts. He removes all the books in stacks, to the floor of one of the bedrooms upstairs, and cleans each book without disturbing the stack. This helps in rearranging the books back on the shelves as mostly the stacks are in a logical order.

The forenoon of yesterday was our day for carrying out this exercise. All went well, with a couple of breaks for tea and after about three hours, we completed the task.

This was when, for the first time in twenty years, Yakob decided to ask me about the library. He asked me, if I had read all the books. I answered in the affirmative. He asked, if I read them more than once. I answered, yes, some and mostly, only to refer to some passage or the other. Very few books were read fully the second time. He then asked me whether, it would be possible that most of the books now rearranged in the library would never be touched by me again. In all honesty, I had to answer yes. He then asked me, why in that case, I don’t give them away to someone who will read them, as I had given away many of the books on Management and Economics, and like some of the books that I had discarded during the current exercise too to be given away.

I am yet to come up with an answer. I have promised him that I shall give him an answer after careful reflection.

I am sure that many of you, my dear readers are also avid readers who collect books. How would you answer Yakob, if you had been asked this question?

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