The local library in my town is generally not bad. They have a fairly decent selection, and they are part of a county-wide consortium of libraries. If they don’t have what you want (which is common), they can get it in a few days from one of the other ones that do.
Whenever I take my daughter there, I let her look in the children’s section while I browse the stacks nearby. I always go to a particular spot where they have every National Geographic magazine published since 1970. Being a shutterbug, I have always loved the photos in Nat Geo. Especially ones from the 60’s and 70’s. The grainy color photography just has a look that I’ve always loved. Say what you will about the magazine itself, but some of the most iconic images of the 20th century have been published on those pages.
You could imagine my shock when I went there yesterday and saw that they were gone. All gone. I looked around and saw many of them in bundles of 10 or 20 stacked on the floor. The only ones on the shelf were less than 2 years old. I went downstairs and found the person in charge to try and find out why they were taken down. “Oh, we’re going to be getting rid of them,” she said, “because we need the shelf space.”
I asked why would they get rid of them, since they actually are a valuable source of reference as well as great photography. Besides, I told her, they are actually worth money. Many people collect Nat Geo. I was told that since all the information they contain could be found elsewhere, mainly the intertubez, they are not needed in the library any more. All periodicals in the library will only be from the last year. So then I said,” Well, since just about every thing you have in this building can be found elsewhere, mainly online, why not just get rid of every book in the place, add a dozen more computer terminals, and lay you and your entire staff off? A public library is more than a collection of pop-up books. Besides, what are you making shelf space for, other than the latest flaming piece of garbage by Dan Brown and other throwaway ‘best-sellers’ that are taking up an increasingly larger portion of the first floor?” Needless to say, she didn’t get where I was coming from.
So I told her that since they are going to be gotten rid of, then they can come to me. I gave her my information, told them to leave the covers intact, and call me when I can pick them up. I just can’t let them be thrown into a dumpster like so many discarded pieces of paper. Holy s#!t, was I angry!
I have always loved old magazines. I love looking at the old advertisements, the photography, and even reading the articles to see how magazine writing has changed over time. They are mini time capsules, giving us a glimpse into a previous moment in our culture. Frankly, I think they are worth much more than people give them credit for.
So, hopefully, I will soon be the proud owner of many years of Nat Geo. Let’s hope they keep the covers on.