Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2024 Issue

Cannabis in the Library? A Strange Twist to a New Library Story

The Ilsley Library (Ilsley Library photo).

These are tough times in the library world. Libraries and librarians have come under attack for the sin of offering books in their libraries. Some librarians have been threatened, libraries defunded, and in some communities, officials have determined it's better to shut the libraries down than allow them to stay open with books they personally don't like. Most of it seems to be about “controversial” topics like racial minorities and gay people. Go figure.


So here is some good news for people who prefer libraries and books to censorship and politicians. The people of Middlebury, Vermont, were dealing with a declining library structure. The Ilsley Public Library had become dated and no longer fully filled the community's needs. There arose a movement to update or replace it. A plan was made. They would keep the original 1924 building, remove a couple of later additions, and add a modern wing to the original building. The project would cost $17 million. Much of it could be raised through grants and gifts, but at least $4.5 million would come from property taxes. That would add roughly $120 to the tax bill of a house appraised for $300,000. According to Zillow, the average value of a home in Middlebury is $428,000, so that is not an insignificant amount of additional taxes the typical resident will have to pay.


Nonetheless, when the bond issue went up for a vote, the bond passed. No, “passed” is not the word. It was overwhelming, 5-1. The “yeses” garnered 83% of the vote. The people of Middlebury, the children in particular, will have their new library.


However, that still leaves the issue of the transition. This led to one of the more unusual stories in library science we've seen in awhile. Since this involves working on an existing structure, not a total replacement, there will be a period when the current library needs to shut down, but the new renovated one will not be finished. It is estimated that will take about 1 ½ years. What happens to library services in the meantime?


The major question, from what location can the library continue to operate, was quickly resolved with a generous offer from the National Bank of Middlebury. They have offered the library space in their building sufficient to continue operations. That will include access to the current most widely read books.


That still leaves the bulk of the collection. Another generous offer was made, but this is one that has left library officials torn. A company called Satori has offered the library 3,000 square feet of climate-controlled space free. How perfect is that? And it's not that the offer isn't appreciated, it is. Still... Satori is a cannabis producer. They produce some of the finest strains, or so they say. I can't say since I lack any experience with their product.


The issue is not with the morality of using cannabis. Hey, this Vermont. They are a laid back and tolerant people. Nor is the issue a concern with public health. They don't appear concerned. The issue is the smell. Storage of cannabis leaves its reminders. They are concerned if they leave the books there, when they come out, they will smell like cannabis. The kids won't mind, but maybe some of the older readers will object. It's unlikely it will make anyone high, but who knows, will it result in a group of book sniffers? They tested leaving a few books in the warehouse a couple of weeks. Some testers said they could detect an odor, others could not. A year and a half may have a greater impact. Satori is not going to try to remove the odor from their warehouse, but will allow the library to do so if it wishes. How to accomplish that is not known. There are some other maybes out there for an alternate storage location, but if nothing else suitable arises, the officials will have to confront a choice with few options. What will they do?

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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