‘Good Bye’ Library (Reflections from one year ago)

After reading John Buchanan’s blog about his downsizing his professional library, I have to share my thoughts from a year ago in saying “good-bye” to more than half of my library.

As I see more and more of my colleagues prepare for retirement, this is an article from the former pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago worth the read:


One year after my retirement, I gaze upon my small library never to forget that last week in my church study when faced with no other choice but to downsize my library.  Two elders, Shelley and Isabella, stood in front of my desk books and boxes.  They would place books in front of me and I would quickly make a decision as to which ones I would keep.   Books that would not be ‘saved’ were going to a room near my study.  They would be spread out on tables for anyone in the congregation wishing to have them.  I gave a couple of seminarians advanced notice of the opportunity take any books they might find helpful in their studies.  I also gave the seminarians most of my reference books.  This is how I acquired many of the books that are in my library.  I didn’t have the patience to think about trying to sell my library.  For economic reasons, I know many of my colleagues who are forced to think about selling their books in order to supplement their income.

Back to that room where my parting books were on display on tables.  I will never forget sitting alone in this room in front of these tables gazing upon them feeling like I was at a funeral.  I was truly grieving the loss of books that had become to me like friends.  A few of these books made were saved to be returned to my personal library.

Weeks later as I placed my books on new shelves in my new home study, I recall ordering a new bookcase.  I was going to need more shelving.  This being said, I am trying to weed out books at the same rate I purchase new books.  I have also been trying to cut back on the books I purchase—really hard.

Ordering e-books is something new for me.  I’m not sure I will ever get used to having a library of books stored somewhere in a “cloud”.  Gazing upon the book self on my phone or computer isn’t as enjoyable as looking at the full wall of books in my study.  I laugh at how the computer tries to simulate a bookcase in listing the e-books I have purchased.   I will always love the hard-copy books I can feel and touch and underscore and write in the margins.

All I wish:  I hope that all of my books, when I die, will be given to those who will honor and cherish them as much as I have throughout the years.  Perhaps some seminarians will have an opportunity to have them?   I know what my wife wishes:  That I get rid of the books before I die!

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