Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyBack in the Saddle

  • Fri, 27 Feb 2015 05:23:15    Permalink
    As my sojourn at writers camp in Ireland comes to an end I find my thoughts turning back to the book trade.
    In particular, a recent article in the Boston Globe about the planned sale of a collection of rare books that had been bequeathed to a local institution, Gordon College, with the proviso that the collection remain intact and stay at the college. Now the college, in a fundraising effort, has decided to send the books to auction at Doyle Gallery in New York, and they've run into a storm of protest from the family of the donor and certain faculty members who were never consulted about the sale.
    This resonates with me because we're dealing with a similar situation at the Gloucester Writers Center.
    Over the past 30 years author and scholar Ralph Maud formed a collection of over 3500 books that duplicated the library of post modernist poet Charles Olson.At his death Maud bequeathed the collection to the Gloucester Writers Center, which is fitting, since Olson resided in Gloucester and made the city and its history the subject of much of his poetry.
    However, before the transfer can be made, Maud's estate wants a guarantee that the Olson library will be kept together and will remain in the care of the Gloucester Writers Center forever.
    The GWC has gone to great lengths to assure the Maud estate that they'll do everything they can to protect and preserve Maud's collection. But they point out, rightly, that no institution can guarantee that any gift will be maintained by that institution in perpetuity. Just look at the scandal at the Barnes Foundation in Philly, or the mess caused by the proposed liquidation of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis. Politics change. Agendas shift.
    Now Gordon College has gone and got themselves into trouble for the second time in recent months. Their first PR gaffe was asking for an exemption to federal hiring practices because they are a Christian institution and don't want to hire gays. You can imagine how well that one went over!
    Now this mess about their rare books.
    Along with Bibles - which, of course, the newsboobs jump on , since "bible" is a form of book most people recognize - this collection also contains a wealth of early voyages and travels – some of which I was hoping to be on the verge, in the best of all possible verges, of perhaps getting the chance to be allowed to purchase.
    Ultimately, however, the geniuses at Gordon decided they'd do better taking their books to public auction rather than sneaking them out the back door to rats like me. And look at the trouble they've gotten themselves into now.

    The only exec who's made more bad decisions than Gordon prez D. Michael Lindsay(what kind of guy has "D." for a first name, anyway?) is Roger Goodell, that overpaid idiot who runs the NFL. 
    There's a lesson here somewhere...
    Next week – Back in the Saddle! The Washington Book Fair.

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