The Galilee Free Library
Couples need a good base camp to live in as they age; if they are not vigilant their camp can get cluttered up with stuff that they just don’t need anymore. We live in a consumerist society; we need to buy lots of stuff to keep the wheels of the economy turning. However, there comes a time when we just need to let stuff go. Clutter is bad; chucking stuff is good! Most Geezers know this truth to be self-evident but there are some who will hold on to things well past the intended use or function. For example, that shirt that you bought in Mexico in 1963 — that does not fit and looks silly — still has a touch of emotional importance and it can’t simply be tossed into the abyss of the landfill. Add to the useless Mexican shirt: posters, pants, hiking shorts, jackets, snowboards, skis, hats, gloves, dresses, gewgaws, baubles, bangles, boots, books, bathing suits, old newspapers, magazines, and a pile of other useless junk that crowds our lives. And, let’s not forget those careworn OshKosh B’Gosh coveralls that you bought the little tyke when he was two — the horror of it all! I say to my Geezer brethren, “Don’t worry, just chuck the tyke’s pants — he doesn’t care!” We are allowed to lighten our load as we geeze into the future.
While tossing one of nine truckloads of useless stuff — a necessary purge — at the local landfill last month I noticed that there is a shack where people can dispatch their books without feeling guilty. Chucking a book can produce a sting of guilt. It got me thinking that maybe I could unload a mess of books that me and the bride were getting rid of. I had already dropped off books at the “Tuckertown Free Library” while walking the dogs. This library is simply an ornate little stand with a glass door where people can maybe grab a book to read while hanging out in the shade of a tree in this beautifully maintained park just outside of Wakefield. It’s a great idea—I’ve scored some great titles there — and I note the turnover of titles when I walk the dogs. It was at the Tuckertown Park where I got an idea about how I could unload a slew of books from home, my boat, truck and Jeep.
The current drill in regards to reading is that I usually give a book away to someone after I read it; however, there are still many books of all sorts cluttering up my life: novels, non-fiction, textbooks, essay collections, etc. Given this, I figured a perfect way to unload stacks of books — good books, too — would be to display them at the standby lot in the Port of Galilee! What better spot is there to pass on a book than a place where people need to burn up the clock while waiting for car space on the Block Island Ferry? And, it encourages reading which I am a huge proponent of for people of all ages — especially young kids who are fixated on the minutiae of their iPhones. Just sayin’.
Hanging in the standby lot on a summer weekend can make for a long day. When working there my job is basically organizing the cars as they come in and then explaining some of the options people may have while they are playing the waiting game in a hot parking lot; sometimes in a seemingly endless holding pattern — people are looking for options. Furthermore, after grabbing lunch, wandering around Galilee and noting the futility of perhaps getting on an earlier boat, reading can be one of those options. This was the genesis of the idea of placing some books between two bookends — Scottish terrier book ends weighted with authority—and letting people take a book to read. And, keeping it. Win, win! The reader can begin the book in the dusty parking lot and end it by reading said book on a pristine Block Island beach. Then, they can pass the book on to someone else.
I have a simple set up for my portable Galilee Free Library. I keep the books in a box inside my truck along with my bookends. I place them on the yellow cement barrier in front of the car shack for easy perusal as people head over to get coffee or lunch. I rolled out books two weeks ago and it went very well. As folks get a sense that it could very well be a long day, they are more apt to scan the stack. I’ve read all of the books so I give them a heads up on what they’re getting into when they crack the book. Moreover, people are surprised that the books are for free. I’ve gotten good feedback from many islanders and seasonal vacationers.
I’m sure as the summer progresses people will want to drop off titles at the Galilee Free Library. I will be the librarian and will have final say if the book will be a good fit. Also, I won’t allow my truck to get overrun with titles — I’ll only take a few from those who want to donate a book. Finally, when you read a book in the standby lot you’ll not only burn up some daylight while waiting for a spot on the boat, but you’ll also learn something new.