Friday, March 9, 2012

There’s something ‘not right’ about a monochrome library

I stumbled across a photo the other day that troubles me still. It caught my eye at first -- as it was designed to, I suspect. Yet, the more I thought about it and what it represented, the more it troubled me.

I had just logged on to the social networking site, Pinterest, to see whether any of my blog posts or other social media articles had been re-pinned. I noticed others had pinned some recipes, motivational sayings, clothing items and more on their boards, which I see upon entering the site.

I had no need for the recipes, as I have a sign in one room of my house reading, “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.” I didn’t have much use for a pencil skirt or red-polka-dotted high heels, either. The motivational sayings always give me pause, though, and cause me to reflect, so I lingered a bit, looking at them.

But what stopped me dead in my tracks was a shelf full of books, all in nearly identical shades of green. When I clicked on the image, I found that it led to a website where people can buy color-coordinated books by the linear foot.

There’s something wrong with that, with creating a library by color scheme, instead of by subject matter, author, interest, passion. This site seemed to be created for designers, people who are helping others amass libraries just for looks.

That’s just not right.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe every home should have books in it – in every room, if possible. Yes, even the throne room. You’ll find books and/or magazines under the sink in mine.

But the books should be carefully selected, strategically placed.

In our home, you’ll find coffee table books about the American flag and about Abraham Lincoln in the living room, classics, poems and short story collections in one guest bedroom, novels and collections of motivational stories in another. In my office are several reference books I use for my writing, and on my bedside bookstand are the books I’m reading now, as well as those that inspire me.

My library, collected a paperback here and a hardcover there over the past five decades, still includes the Janet Lennon book I received from a friend at a birthday party in a park on my twelfth birthday, a dog-eared copy of The American Dream and The Zoo Story by Edward Albee, with his “dog-eared signature” collected 25 years ago, and novels penned by a high school classmate.

It ranges from thin little books I ordered in grade school to big, heavy ones I purchased and had inscribed by scholars at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

In those other rooms, the books are arranged by genre and sometimes by size. But in the library, you’ll never find my books organized by color, nor purchased for looks instead of substance.

I have every volume for a reason, because of the content or the person who wrote it. And they’re organized the only way a home library should be – by the Dewey Decimal System.

And, yes, I know that is every bit as obsessive-compulsive as organizing them by color.

But, you know what? There is something ‘right’ about it.

© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012

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