Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Publication and Preservation

Even though I can get all the resources I need electronically, I occasionally cross the campus to the library.  I feel sorry for all those books, so neatly shelved, almost never checked out.  I do wonder how long the school (and schools across the country) will continue to dedicate themselves to the task of tending books that are never used.

I'm not talking about the censorship campaigns happening in parts of the country.  Those libraries that are being decimated have been in use.  I go to the physical library at my seminary, and I am almost always the only one in there who is not library staff.

A few weeks ago, I made this Facebook post:  "When I'm in the seminary library, I have to resist the temptation to check out the books that haven't been checked out in awhile (that is to say, most of them)--in part to make the books feel loved, in part so that they won't be culled, if the library is called upon to do such things."

I love the smell of the library, even though I know I'm smelling the slow, slow crumbling of books turning to dust.  I remember going to the library in my spare time in undergraduate school, sitting in the stacks, often on the floor, soaking in all sorts of wisdom.  I loved reading periodicals.  I thought I would do something similar in seminary, but so far, I don't.

Right now the books are protected because the space isn't needed for something else.  Teachers aren't fighting over classroom space.  We have an empty dorm that can be used for faculty offices.  There's no need to uproot the books.

I'm guessing that there are accreditation issues that also safeguard the books.  I know that it's not as simple as I'm sketching it here.

I've been sending out poetry submissions this morning, thinking about their passage in the world.  Will they find a place between covers in an old-fashioned book or periodical?  Why do I do this anyway?

In part, force of habit.  In part, because I'm still happy when a poem gets accepted.  In part because I still want to believe that poems that are published have some chance of preservation.

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