There is a room in the basement of the Public Library here in Memphis that only a few can enter. It is filled with books, obviously, but these books are neither for borrowing or lending. These are destined to find homes in homes. It is the sorting and warehousing room for Second Editions the used book store of the library.
Inside this room a small group of wizards determine the merits and qualities of each book. There is a vault of sorts for the very valuable ones. Outside it’s doors are enormous wheeled carts filled with sad books. The kind that were mass produced and shouldn’t have been. These are headed to a grim and well deserved fate. The sheer volume of them make one consider if after Ted Deckers death a basement filled with chimpanzees and typewriters will be discovered in his house.
This room is overseen by soft spoken man named Sheldon. He is just a lovely guy and I have infiltrated his domain twice. He pointed me in the direction of the books I was looking for, just past the book press, the poetry section, which was conveniently located at the end of the theology row. I stocked up on my way down before turning the corner to literature to swell the ranks of my original Penguin Classics collection. And there, in petty I found a gem, a small, two by one inch, purple silk cloth covered, folio society edition of Sir Patrick Spens and Other Ballads, in it’s gold slipcase. The book is so small it could easily be missed. And yet this was the kind of treasure that can only be found in a subturanian wonderland filled with mountains of books. It was like Bilbo discovering the Arkensone in the Lair of Smaug. Sheldon didn’t know what it was and let me take it home for a buck.
The second time I visited the cave of wonders beneath the library I managed to smuggle in T.S. we both made out like bandits.
I am a little obsessive compulsive about my books being organized and beautifully displayed. But there is a part of me that longs to have a book room like the one beneath the library. And it would appear I am headed that way. Though my piles are discreet, they are growing. Eventually I will probably die in an avalanche caused by the retrieval of the wrong book form the Jenga like structure that is currently growing under and around my desk.
One day I intend to get back into the Library book room. And by Gods grace I shall. Currently I am trying to finagle a way to get Hudson down there. I am not so subtly growing his library. It has been a few years since I was down there last. But a new year has dawned and if Sheldon wants to get ahead in his sales… I might be able to help.
Note: The picture above is from another library basement. Sadly I don’t have a picture of the real one to post here.