I’m doing grubby pulls, the grossest of the gross, a final sweep before we RFID everything. Get those torn, ragged, stained, worn smokers’ home monstrosities off the shelf.
It’s a matter of perception, sure—what constitutes gross. Unacceptable. Uncheckoutable. Get the latex gloves, I’m going in. Many are tossed (“recycled responsibly”) without question, but there are gray areas. Another librarian might keep what I would weed, deepsix (BOOM!) and vice versa.
Wah wah, what’s a scuff, a little coffee? Sure, I guess that could be blood. We have another copy, or it’s out of print, or it circulates like crazy and I spent all my money, or it hasn’t checked out since Dubya but it’s local or it’s cool or it’s classic or it cost a lot—a mental calculus that takes half a second to half a day.
I see promise. Gravitas. An eager reader can’t believing her luck.
I also see germs and total garbage taking up space.
I don’t examine every book—who has time for that? just stalking the stacks and minding intuition, the attention triggers like fat curled corners. Warped spines. Waterlogged text blocks and more subtle signs.
I had a hunch on this one, don’t even remember why. It was shelved, naturally, in psychology, tripping me out as I turned to the cover page to the point I had to touch it, braille up the damage to confirm it was in aberration, not mere clever design.
See what you want to see. Trash or beauty. Coincidence or synchronicity or idiot butter fingers when the stranger bumped the table and the tea, well, you see.
I show it to colleagues who agree this must mean something! and we know we are silly but cherish the feeling kismet! cosmos! Rorschach serendipity!
I buff the cover and return it to the shelf.