A Library Unto Myself of Books Not My Own

I once had a book company give me a lot of books. I then had to figure out how to give them away and keep them safe.

Back when I was in Albania, I sent a letter to Norton Publishing in the UK asking if I could get a couple sample copies of one or two of their anthologies. This was a tactic often used by university students to acquire books back when university textbooks only cost an arm and a leg.

I was surprised, then, when Some Big Shot at Norton (not his real name) offered to send me dozens of books if I could pay part of the shipping. Despite my bad relations with our country director Bitchy Punt, I somehow managed to convince her to pay the portion of the shipping (only the equivalent of fifty dollars or so) and the books arrived at my apartment.

I then had to figure out how to distribute them. I gave a stack of them to the library at the Foreign Language faculty in Tirana, and also presented a set of anthologies to the library director as a, well, incentive/kickback to keep the rest of the books safe and in the library and, more importantly sometimes in Albania, to actually let them out of storage. I was then able to send my students to the library to borrow the anthologies for use in class. I also had my students write letters to the Big Shot at Norton thanking him and his staff for their generosity. (Occasionally, I do learn a few things about working with other people.)

Unfortunately, I was also living in Elbasan and, after giving away another huge chunk of books to the excellent library there, I still had five boxes of books in my apartment. Now if I’d been smart (shutup) I would have immediately taken them to the black market and set up shop. However, since I’d already told my students I’d do book checks and fail anyone without a book if I saw any of the books in the black market, I figured it was a bad idea to go sell them.

In the end, because I left the Peace Corps under angry terms, I donated more books to the libraries and told my students they could keep the ones they had. The rest ended up at the Peace Corps office and I don’t know what happened to them.

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  1. Pingback: A World of Choices With Five Bubbles | Mere Blather

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