On the Internet, Solutions Present Themselves

Today, I read a disturbing article on the Internet that indicates that, after the fall of civilization, it will only be the Noggle Library that lifts mankind from its new dark ages. The article: A library without books? Some universities purging dusty volumes:

A library without books? Not quite, but as students abandon the stacks in favor of online reference material, university libraries are unloading millions of unread volumes in a nationwide purge that has some print-loving scholars deeply unsettled.

Libraries are putting books in storage, contracting with resellers or simply recycling them. An increasing number of books exist in the cloud, and libraries are banding together to ensure print copies are retained by someone, somewhere. Still, that doesn’t always sit well with academics who practically live in the library and argue that large, readily available print collections are vital to research.


At Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the library shelves overflow with books that get little attention. A dusty monograph on “Economic Development in Victorian Scotland.” International Television Almanacs from 1978, 1985 and 1986. A book whose title, “Personal Finance,” sounds relevant until you see the publication date: 1961.

With nearly half of IUP’s collection going uncirculated for 20 years or more, university administrators decided a major housecleaning was in order. Using software from Lugg’s group, they came up with an initial list of 170,000 books to be considered for removal.

Fortunately, an email I received later offered a link to a solution: 15 Brilliant Ways to Repurpose a Pile of Old Books:

If you’ve got shelves or boxes of old books hanging around your home, don’t toss them! Repurpose them into something grand with these 15 fantastic ways to repurpose them.

The burden of the future is partially lifted from my shoulders. Between the Noggle Library at the end of my retirement (projected to be somewhere over 20,000 books, some 15,000 of which I will not have read) and the random crafters making pleasing arrangements of books with pleasantly colored spines, certainly we’ll do what the monasteries did a thousand years ago.

Now, to start a nonprofit that accepts donations from these universities to turn actual academic work (and “academic” work of the latter half of the 20th century) into the 21st century equivalent of macrame instead of cat litter.

Full disclosure: I once tested the first version of the Yesterday’s News cat litter Web site. Also, the remainder of the books left over from the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale, twice a year, are ground into cat litter for Yesterday’s News. So I’m not joking about actual books being ground into stuff for cats to pee on.

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