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Monday, February 14, 2011

Should It Stay Or Should It Go Now

One of the ongoing jobs a librarian encounters is weeding. We systematically cull our collection so that can offer the best possible resources to our patrons. Crusty and out-of-date books, you're outta here! Last week while weeding, I pulled Treating Couples in Crisis: Fundamentals and Practice in Marital Therapy. This book isn't a bad book, or at least it wasn't back in 1984 when it was published. (I think that was the year I had a crush on Dwayne Dugger in elementary school...) Not only has no one been interested in checking out this sucker for over ten years, the cover art is boring and the content is, well, boring. (It's geared more towards those actually doing the therapy than the therapy participants.) Just to verify that I wasn't going to toss something important, I did a quick Internet search for the book. If you can picture me gleefully rubbing my hands together, do so now. I pulled up a blurb in the Weekly World News from June 16, 1992 about crazy cases the author had taken.
A jealous woman, convinced her husband was cheating on her, became so depressed that she jumped off the balcony of their high-rise apartment. By sheer coincidence her husband walked right underneath her--and she crashed down on top of him. Thanks to her husband breaking her fall, she lived--but he died.
Weekly World News, supermarket tabloid delight, how we miss thee sitting next to the candy bars in the checkout lane. On the recto page of this tiny article, I noticed Dear Dotti, the Weekly World News advice columnist for many years. Dotti's reply to someone who kept receiving unwanted calls from door-to-door evangelizers? Keep a small 666 decal near the front door. When someone knocks, apply decal to forehead, open the door, and graciously invite in the unwelcome guests. Emily Post, she is not.

I also considered weeding One for a Man, Two for a Horse: A Pictorial History, Grave and Comic, of Patent Medicines. At first glance the book's jacket is slightly tattered and has a cartoonish look, possible signs that a book might be ready to leave its home here. However, the contents are actually a solid history combined with excellent reference pictures of the quack medicine industry of years gone by. One of my favorite nuggets? No, I didn't find it in the chapter entitled Tapeworms; Or, What Have You? or Manhood: Lost and Found. (These are both fascinating, by the way.) I was heartily amused and fascinated by what I found in She Put it in her Papa's Coffee. It seems that back in the day, a popular "medication" was an odorless and tasteless substance that magically cured you of alcoholism. Family members were urged to try it for free and slip it into the offending drunkard's food or drink (unbeknownst to them, of course.) The ingredients in one such concoction? Milk sugar, starch, pepper, and a tiny bit of ipecac. That's right, Pa, you don't want to drink any more because you're too busy being ill. Other medications of this type even contained alcohol; I'm not sure feeding an alcoholic alcohol cures anything!

So, Treating Couples in Crisis: Fundamentals and Practice in Marital Therapy, you're outta here! One for a Man, Two for a Horse: A Pictorial History, Grave and Comic, of Patent Medicines, you're safe for another day. By the way, if you'd like to know a little more about weeding, check out one of Tracy's blog posts about MUSTY books.

Barker, Robert L. Treating Couples in Crisis: Fundamentals and Practice in Marital Therapy. New York: Macmillan, 1984.
Carson, Gerald. One for a Man, Two for a Horse: A Pictorial History, Grave and Comic, of Patent Medicines. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.
Weekly World News. June 16, 1992. Web. Feb. 14, 2011.

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