Clearing away dead wood: Donating books to the library

Art and art history books fill a plastic crate.

This crate was so full I needed a dolly to haul it from the car to the library entrance!

My home library has reached reverse Thunderdome status: One book enters, two books leave. 🙂

So Monday, while organizing the guest bedroom, I filled a plastic crate with about 25 of my treasured art and art history books. It was difficult emotionally, because I really bond to books as objects and memories.

But I had to ask myself whether I was actively enjoying these books or just using them as a type of visual security blanket. Once I started filling the crate, it became easier to select more books that were unlikely to be an important resource for me in the future.

I prefer to donate my old books to public libraries or schools. For many years, I would gather up a couple of grocery bags of books read over the previous year and haul them to the city library on Montrose Boulevard in Houston. I tried selling some art books at Half Price Books once, but the money I got for them was less than 5% of their original value and the clerks treated me so rudely that I decided re-selling just wasn’t worth the hassle.

Yesterday, I hauled the current book cull to the library of a local art college. The librarian  told me the school had been founded only four years ago, so growing their book collection through donations will be a real help.

This morning I am already missing my old friends. But I think they will be happier in a library where lots of people will be reading and enjoying them every week than sitting lonely on a shelf in the guest room.

What role do books as physical objects play in your life? Do you feel like my current brother-in-law, who keeps every book he’s ever read because, “The book has become a part of me, and I can’t imagine being without it.” Or do you feel that most books are a moment of enjoyment or education, to be consumed and absorbed, then passed on to the next reader? And what about e-books? Where do they fit into your library?

A little “me” time

The Botanical Artist magazine is informative and enjoyable.

A glass of wine and a good read. The Botanical Artist magazine arrived yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon’s mail brought the new quarterly issue of The Botanical Artist: Journal of the American Society of Botanical Artists.

This magazine is a worthwhile benefit of belonging to this organization. The editorial mix always includes an educational article about functional botany, a feature on different color pigments and mixes, historical botanical illustration and intro’s to the work and studios of member artists.

The recent re-design has opted to leave out contact information for the various workshops and competition listings, instead referring the reader to the website for more details. This is an information-design mistake, in my opinion.

The only real disadvantage to this mag is that the pups like it as an appetizer as much as I do reading it!

Winter reading

Photo of Heidi Swapp's lettering book and David Harris' calligraphy book

Two different approaches to creative hand-lettering.

Some mid-winter treats just arrived. I’ve been wanting to experiment with hand-lettering for quite a while, but have always been intimidated due to my very poor daily handwriting. Heidi Swapp’s Love Your Handwriting (Creating Keepsakes)
is a workshop style guide to learning how to enjoy and enhance the natural handwriting style you already have.

Meanwhile, Calligrapher’s Bible by David Harris offers an encyclopedic listing of 100 of the best-known, historical, calligraphic fonts with instruction on limning them.

Photo of Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

I hope to learn more about constructing a story visually from Caldecott winner Uri Shulevitz’ classic instructional text, Writing with Pictures.

I plan to glean knowledge on how to construct a submittable (and readable!) children’s book dummy from Uri Shulevitz and his book  Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books. As noted in the Amazon reviews, the final section about reproduction techniques and producing camera-ready art is hopelessly dated. However, the first three sections about pacing, character development and the interaction of image and word remain relevant.

Any purchases made from the links above will give me a very small commission as an Amazon affiliate, at no additional cost to you.

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