Earlier this year, on March 6 to be precise, I described a wonderful book that I had been given by my nephew. The book was part of the Census of 1880 and contained a lengthy section devoted to building stones of the United States. The book is still very cool but now it is even better.
What I hadn’t noted before was that the book was in terrible shape. The cover was more wolf-eared than dog-eared it had been so severely damaged, and the main part of the book was barely attached to the spine. Every time I opened it, I thought it was going to fall apart in my hands. In addition, the one large map in the book was ripped almost into two pieces.
So being the diligent book owner and book lover, I decided to get my new, old book fixed and gave it to book conservator, Carolina Veenstra. Four months later the book has returned. The book looks great. It has a new cover, the spine and the pages are attached to each other, and the map has new backing. I can read the book without fear of ending up with two books in my hands. I can linger over the color plates, many of which have a sheet of thin paper protecting the images. I can unfold the map.
In this day of Kindles, ebooks, and Google books, it is even more of a pleasure to own this handsome tome. It pleases me to no end, knowing that I have preserved a 129-year old book, a book that someone will still be able to read in another 129 years, no matter what new technology we develop. That is one of the simple pleasures of these items we call books. Plus this one has that amazing old book aroma, one of the world’s great smells.
As I turn the pages, I like to imagine the previous owners. Were they quarry owners? Were they seeking out rocks for a project? Were they other nutty geogeeks simply interested in the stories that stone tells? I am sure they were all of that and more. I am also sure that this book will provide me with many more years of enjoyment.