Saturday, March 10, 2007

Who Wants a 50-Year-Old Encyclopedia?

When we bought our home 21 years ago, the sellers had lived here a whole generation, and since it is a large home, they had never bothered to divest of anything. They were grateful for anything we agreed they could leave behind with us. Among their treasures was a 1956 set of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia. I grew up with Compton's and thought it would be fun to have a set, though it takes up two shelves in my office. When I was a little girl I particularly liked the picture insets of dogs and of dolls. Perhaps I never made it past the D volume?
Although it is missing the last five decade's discoveries, inventions, and events, it is still a helpful reference. When I did research for illustration I often found useful images in it. Now we chiefly refer to it for the odd clue in crossword puzzles, but Google is sooooooo much faster, I hardly look at it anymore.
I love getting rid of things. I find it very freeing, and a spiritual practice, in a way - trusting I will be fine without the x, y, or z, and sending it on to a new home. It creates a space for something new, and it's always interesting to see what evolves next.
But who in the world would want these volumes? I listed it on my local Freecycle, and it turns out quite a few people were excited to have them. The chosen responder is taking them for a local elementary school where the librarian likes old encyclopedias. I find that a little scary, but presumably they do have access to the Internet, and print encyclopedias are used selectively. One of my friends quotes her grandmother as saying 'there's a lid for every pot'. Someone WANTS a 1956 Compton's Encyclopedia!
Perhaps I will miss it, but in my experience I have never missed anything I have given away. I have had a few complaints from family members, though....

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