So one of my dirty little secrets is that I am addicted to library book sales. Well…I’m addicted to books, first-and-foremost. And summer book sales in Vermont/New England are some of the best places to find rare and unusual books, discontinued volumes, and novels that you might never have heard of otherwise.
Vermont has lots of old town libraries—many of which are historic buildings on historic registers—and book sales are often one of their main sources of revenue, particularly as town budgets continue to cut and slash funding from municipal projects. (This makes no sense to me, since libraries as a resource are one of the things that [1.] educate and inspire young minds, especially where primary school budgets and resources are being cut as well, and [2.] are often a resource for people looking for jobs. But since this blog wasn’t meant to be about politics, I’ll get off my high horse.)
Lots of people donate books that the library can sell, but in addition, libraries often go through their own collections and “discard” books that are deemed too old or outdated as reference material. The libraries’ losses can be our gain! Sometimes one can find a real treasure amongst the stacks and stacks of material.
Often my problem is that I find too many treasures! Not only do I look for fiction and reference material among my research interests, I also look for interesting mail art material—which older books can provide in droves.
Last week at the book sale of the Rutland Free Library I found an old coffee table book called Land Birds of America, published by McGraw-Hill Book Company in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History. Now…I’m interested in birds somewhat. I mean, I’ve never gone bird watching other than to stand on my back porch with a pair of binoculars, but birds can be fascinating.
However… what was really impressive about this book wasn’t so much the old 1953 layout and photos so much as what the previous owner had stuffed inside several of the leaves of the book…
Obviously, the previous owner had been a bird and nature enthusiast because there was promotional material from the Audubon Society (including large marketing prints), and the National Wildlife Foundation (including sheets and sheets of National Wildlife Conservation stamps and stickers, collectors’ cards, and postcards.
All of this stuff is gonna look great adorning my mail art envelopes, and there’s so much material that I might even send some of it to mail art friends as a gift to use on their own mail art creations!
Many of the pages in the book, itself, might turn into great handmade envelopes…a project for another rainy day…