As soon as school closed last week, professors emptied their shelves onto a table in our building. Old and new books, from fiction to plays and journals, poetry collections and textbooks lay spread there competing for attention. They were free to be taken away. By evening everyday, the best of the books would be gone. But by the next morning, there would be another load, and the process continued. I made a few selections every day of the week, including The Book of Yeat’s Poems by Hazard Adams and Exploring Language edited by Gary Goshgarian among many others.
Just last month, a colleague gracefully handed me a box filled with books of African writing published in the 70s. He had cleaned out his shelf and thought that I might be interested in the collection. I was. It is times like this that I wish that I was rich enough to pay for shipping costs to send tonnes of books no longer useful to their owners to small-town libraries and bookstores in Ibadan where young literary minds can get access to them. When I’m done with these, I’ll have to hand them to someone else who might find them useful. It’s hard to think that in a few years, the concept of books itself will have eventually become archaic, especially in these parts.