Woman Saves Over 300,000 Books, Now Plans To Burn Them
Shauna Raycraft's house in Saskatchewan, Canada, looks like the setting for Smokey the Bear's least-favorite episode of Hoarders. Seven years ago, her bibliophile neighbor died and the man's wife said she was going to burn his collection of more than 300,000 books. So Raycraft stepped in and saved them—moving 7,000 boxes of books, buying a small house to store them in, sorting through more than 100,000, and giving thousands to literacy programs and charities.
Now, Raycraft says that if she doesn't receive enough help to sort through the remaining 30 tons of books by July 6, she is going to call the fire department and hold a book burning of her own, complete with band and pig roast. She has been quoted as saying, "I like looking at the years of books. I like looking at which school the books came from, or seeing the little shopping lists and notes that fall out of them." And to that I say, "How about you spend less time shaking the shopping lists out of them and gawking at their markings and more time sorting?" I mean it. Let's see some hustle here.
Look, I know it's cold in Canada, but the fact that not one but two people's solution for this collection was to hold a book burning is just bizarre and offensive. There are countless ways to re-home books, and none of them take seven years. Ms. Raycraft, if you happen upon this before striking your match, consider these things:
- Let collectors come sift through them. On your Facebook group, you turned someone down who offered to bring collectors by, saying they "tend to be pushy." Beggars can't be choosers.
- Another woman on your Facebook group asked if you wanted people to grab books to clear them out. You responded with "I perfer [sic] there to be no 'Grabbing' lol. With too many people it becomes meyham. [sic] I am willing to give volunteers books but my primary objective is to donate to readers in need!" Let people take them. If you're planning a book burning, the time for noble intentions has passed.
- Post that you have free books on Craigslist then leave the book storage area unlocked.
- Donate to libraries, schools, or thrift stores. Look for those big donation drop boxes.
- Take a box at a time to used book stores. They won't want everything, but they will take some.
- Commenters on the CBC story about your situation offered to take boxes of unsorted books.
- Another commenter from a nonprofit literacy organization offered to help. There are plenty of options along those lines.
- Have a massive yard sale.
- eBay unsorted boxes.
- If worst comes to absolute worst (which it should not), recycle them, but for the love of all things decent, don't burn them.
Book-loving LitReactor friends, any advice for her? I think she's probably well-intentioned but going about things in the wrong way.
Photo via Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix
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