I am going on my third year as a student worker for the Webster University Library. There is only one aspect of this job that I have come to love as much as designing the monthly newsletters destined for the stalls of the library’s lavatories, and that is processing gift books. It is a process that involves searching the library’s database to determine whether or not the library already owns the material that has been donated and, in the case that it does, determining how many times that item has been checked out. (If an item has been checked out several times another copy will most likely be added to the collection). Once I have filled out the appropriate paper work for the donated material it is passed on to the librarian responsible for the academic department in which the title falls and he or she makes the final decision as to whether it is to be added to the collection. The material that doesn’t make the cut can look forward to the tight quarters of a box below the counter where it shall stay until donated.
About a year ago I was going through this box of misfit titles when I stumbled upon what I thought to be one of the most gorgeous books I had ever seen despite its stained cover. Below the book’s title, The Scarlet Letter, was a gold-etched pillar and beside it, an assortment of flowers all on a peach colored cover. Upon excitedly showing off the piece to one of the librarians, I was old that I may keep it if I so chose. Judging by the copyright date on the illustrated picture on the inside of the cover, this particular copy of the book came out around 1899. I had my first antique, collectible novel! Continue reading