Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What would the CPSC do with a Gutenberg Bible?

According to a recent CPSC slide presentation (PDF), books only have a useful life of about 20 years. That's a rather interesting and fatally flawed idea. Consider this Gutenberg Bible printed around 1450, and is now approximately 559 years old. Some may consider it too fragile to handle and therefore not useful. And heaven forbid, the book may have been printed with lead metal type and oil based ink. The Bible pictured above is in the Library of Congress. If they need room for more James Pattersons and Daniel Steeles, they could just toss this. It couldn't possibly be useful, could it?

I recently saw a museum exhibit of Gutenberg Bibles and the development of modern printing. Many of the Bibles were still fully functional and one could conceivable turn the pages and read the Word of God. I would venture a guess and say more people died from the mere possession of a Bible than from making one or heck, eating it in a moment of starvation. And the odd thing is, according to the CPSC, I need to toss my own Bible because it is no longer useful.

The CPSC does not understand how libraries work or how they were created. My local library was built by a generous, local benefactor. That is the building itself was funded by a local family. The library collection was based on several personal collections of others in the community. For many years, the library collection was based entirely on donations. We have a book buying budget now, but we still rely heavily on book donations to maintain the collection. I know of a handful of local libraries who have had their budgets cut and they have NO book buying budget. In any event, donations come in ranging in age and usefulness. We probably keep more books than we have space for just for the off chance someone may need it.

Back to my local library. It was built in 1960 and a large percentage of books date back to that time. A large percentage of the children's collection dates to the 1970s, and at least 75% is printed pre-1985. But I guess they aren't useful. We can't possibly circulate 2,000+ children's items and no one really cares about reading a 20 year old book. Forget about literacy, history or culture. Those things aren't useful.

Stop the insanity!

Others are talking about this insane opinion:

The HeadMistress
Doodle and Noodles

Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gutenberg_Bible.jpg

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