One thing about working this Book Fair is the opportunities for travel. I don’t mean just piling up books ON travel, or the extra commute we offer volunteers unwary enough to indicate willingness to go about the city, picking up donations. (By the way, we’re way low on these at the moment and they are, so to speak, pretty well booked up. Don’t call and say you’ve got the books out at the curb and we’d better be there in ten minutes. It doesn’t work that way.)
No, I mean the visits we can make into whole other worlds through the donations of hobbyists and professionals. Our trip into the nineteenth century Italian political world was brief, since most of the books were in Italian, but we have, through your donations, been able to wander a bit through a bygone day of 1930s Communist pamphlets, the rarefied air of the limbo between higher mathematics and philosophy, and some of the indoor/outdoor excursions of 1960s gun collectors. (From the workshop to the field: no telling how many innocent skeets barely escaped injury during these exercises.)
But right now, we are working with a massive donation from a major public institution, a legendary part of Chicago. No one has forbidden me to say what institution passed along ninety boxes of books from its library, but I’ll keep it quiet just in case. But it may perhaps give you a taste of the world we have entered to say the collection included a book on how to handfeed baby bats, a guide to caring for crocodiles ion captivity, and a back volume of the international stud book for polar bears.
It is a collection truly international in scope: here’s a book on reindeer husbandry, translated from the Norwegian, here is a guide to marsupials of Canada (how many different kinds ARE there), and here is a checklist to birdlife in Madagascar. I like this book on the native animals of Saudi Arabia: it’s a big, thick volume, and guess what animal they put on the front cover. Nope. A starfish. That wouldn’t have occurred to anyone who wasn’t a professional in the field.
So if you are looking for books on birds, beasts, or bass, this is going to be the place to visit in July. Whether you want a book on what to feed your tarantula, or this guide from a British zoo listing every single diet they feed their residents, we’ve got it. Want to read the reports of organizations dedicated to saving the trumpeter swan, the rhinocerous, or the black robin? Come down to our place.
Some of the books do puzzle us a bit. This guide to identifying trophy heads may be useful (your weird Uncle Barnacle may send you some souvenirs of his career: you want to know what animals these heads were attached to originally, don’t you?) but why, especially, would the z…organization have a copy? I understand all the books on midwifery, even if they were originally intended for people with human patients, but how about this book on the psychology of the average five year old? Were they figuring that was going to be the core audience, and designing signs with this book to help out? And we’re all scratching our heads over the Sunset Italian Cookbook. Maybe there was this rare Italian panda who wouldn’t stay unless he got his marinara.
Well, we’ll struggle with all the problems (do I need to put the guide to camel reproduction in with the adults only books in Collectibles?) Come in July and look through them. I expect they’ll be a couple of rooms away from the gun books.