Yes, we do pick up donations. No, we do not demand that you have a maximum or minimum number of books. Yes, we would rather you bring them in if you possibly can. No, we do not charge for this service, nor does the driver/picker-upper expect a tip. (Don’t let this hold you back, if you are inclined that way. A small piece of diamond jewelry would be a tasteful memento of the occasion.)
I keep thinking these things are general knowledge, but people do keep asking. And there are some things nobody asks that I think I should make clearer.
1. No, we do NOT want to come and look at your books to see if we want them. We want them, all right? It’s difficult enough to arrange a person to find time to come carry your boxes of treasures away without having to schedule a separate appointment to come survey the territory. If you have a personal relationship with a curator at the Newberry, and you suspect your books need their attention, please discuss that with the curator personally. Don’t ask ME to do it. I’ll try to get all your books carried over here, and THEN let the curator have a look.
2. Yes, we give a receipt but no, we do NOT do appraisals. It’s agin the law, for starters. (This is to keep me from making deals like, “Give me your Rebecca Wells first editions and I’ll swear they were worth $10,000.”) If your collection is of interest to the folks upstairs, there are all kinds of procedures by which you can agree on an appraiser and an appraised value, and so forth. It’s even nicer if you get the collection appraised before you even call us. (Mind you, if your collection is accompanied by a sworn document claiming its value to be somewhat above that of rubies, the Library will have to store it for a number of years in case the IRS wants to check up on you. This, however, is not a Book Fair matter.)
3. Related to that, no, we will not offer advice as we stand there on which books you should keep to sell on eBay and which you should give to us. It’s not that we mind giving out our opinion, since that’s not binding on us, you, eBay, or the Newberry. It’s that some of us have other things to do today, and keeping that appointment with the artist who is going to tattoo Hello Kitty in a Cubs uniform on our left bicep seems more important than discussing each book on your bookshelf. Sure, that’s just our lack of proper priorities, but we’re as human as you are (allegedly).
4. Even in this day of instant messaging and Internet efficiency, we take a while to get a pick-up set up. The more books you have, and the farther you are from civilization, the less likely that we will be able to respond with boxes and cheerful picker-uppers within 24 hours of your email. Yes, we have had calls to pick up books from Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and even, once, Ohio. I thin we actually were able to oblige in one or two cases (not Ohio) but even those required a certain amount of lead time.
5. Yes, sometimes we can bring our own boxes and pack up the books for you. But I can’t guarantee that: it depends on the time of year, on how many boxes in my limited stock I’ve already used up, and how much of my limited budget I have available to buy more boxes. (Cardboard isn’t cheap–that’s another thing I have against it–and I refuse to run to Potash Bros. and beg for banana boxes.)
6. Yes, we do want your books. No, we’re not trying to insult or ignore you when we take some time in getting out to your place. Yes, we understand it was not your fault the squirrels got into your attic and chewed on those encyclopedias.
And no, I wasn’t necessarily thinking of you when I suggested in a blog that some donors have squirrels in their attics.