LETTER: Bibliophile seeks home for books

From reader Dr. John Dale

At the ripe old age of 75 I decided it might be time to do something with my library. I started collecting, reading and studying two particular areas many years ago out of personal interest. One was Arctic and Antarctic history, travel and geography, and the other was philosophy (western).

Over the years I have collected 300-plus books on Polar regions and about 1,500 books on most areas of philosophy and science. I describe this not to boast, although I am very proud of the collection, but to illustrate how sad it now seems to be that no institution in this country is interested in taking this collection on my demise.

I have approached Simon Fraser University, UBC (Vancouver and Okanagan), Selkirk College and finally the Nelson Public Library. Typical responses were “most students read on an iPad” and “Oh, how interesting but we just don’t have room for them,” or “can you deliver them all to us but we may not be able to put them on a shelf.” In addition I have had some offers to buy some of the rare books (no chance). Two professors from UBC did check out the library but there was interest in cherry-picking some books only.

The Nelson library, which on taking them and making room, would have had a collection of modern philosophy books surpassed only by McGill University Library and maybe the one at McMaster, declined the offer. They informed me the books were far too esoteric for the average Nelson reader and were too academic.

Perhaps Nelson might benefit from becoming more academic and serious in its thinking. There are already enough pseudo-psychology, pseudo-philosophy and pseudo-scientific books around here to last several lifetimes. Oh, am I am a book snob? Yes, unashamedly, guilty as charged!

So it seems like the age of bibliophiles has passed, with a few dinosaurs around who actually read serious books. I have had some individuals locally express an interest in taking the whole lot. It will be that or a depressing run to the garbage dump.

So I remain rather sad but will continue reading and collecting books for a little longer.

Dr. John R. Dale


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