Perhaps we should make TCM‘s Robert Osborne an honorary library staffer. He enhanced a customer interaction this week.
The caller queried, “I don’t owe any fines, right?” Extra-busy recently, she’d lost track of time and required confirmation that nothing was overdue.
Well, you know what can happen when a basketful of items are checked out and the date due sneaks by. Little 20-cent late fees multiply–so she owed a few dollars. (Any library insider will tell you that late fees exist only to incentivize returning so everyone can share
tax-funded materials equitably. If all items came back on time, thus generating zero fines, we’d celebrate. And so would everyone who’s ever been obliged to wait longer than necessary for his/her turn…)
“Not what I wanted to hear,” she admitted, “but then who could afford to buy all those things if the library didn’t have them?”
Here’s where Mr. Osborne comes in. The customer brightened just then, remembering her brilliant acquisition from Friends of the Round Rock Public Library’s Book Nook. She had chanced upon Osborne’s 75 Years of the Oscars: The Official History of the Academy Awards and snagged it for two dollars! While that copy is outdated by library standards–we now offer Osborne’s 85 Years of the Oscars –that once-costly trove of photos, trivia, and insider reportage is still “sooo entertaining” for the new owner and her friends.
Traffic to the Book Nook continues to increase, due to word-of-mouth testimonials like this. For $2 (paperbacks, $1) savvy customers walk away with items in at least good condition; some Nook donations are brand-new. Book lovers indulge in low-cost collecting; deserving volumes get new homes.
One Book Nook customer transforms pages into eye-catching paper wreaths.
I believe it’s correct to classify her inventive art as upcycling or repurposing rather than recycling. Oxforddictionaries.com defines upcycle as “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original”. And upcycling has its own sub-tags, e.g. ,trashion.
In the introduction to his Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have, Danny Seo advocates for eco-friendly concepts utilizing materials already on hand and salvaging from thrift stores and flea markets for this “higher form of recycling”. He should know: his guide features tie-dye using Sharpies, robot figures made from pots and pans, and a potato chip bag mirror, for starters.
Delve into the library’s Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center with keywords upcycle* or repurpose*, and you’ll discover photos and how-to’s for designs like shelves, tables, and chairs devised from vintage suitcases; a chair fabricated from old CDs; a designer-look necklace strung from broken jewelry; a mid-century-inspired clock born of a vinyl record; and loads of other outside-the-box notions.
A sampling of more upcycling/repurposing brilliance online:
Upcycle That (founded on Earth Day 2012)
Mother Earth News’ Reusing Things: 100 Ideas of How to Reuse Commonly Thrown Away Items
Bob Vila’s Repurposing for Creative Storage Solutions
HGTV’s 25 Ways to Use Your Old Stuff
Blogger Gail Wilson’s My Repurposed Life
Cashmere sweaters account for a surprising share of repurposing activity; cup holders, baby attire, pot holders, and bracelets represent the tip of the iceberg.
Do you fret about possessing too much of this pricey knitwear, underutilized due to slight damage or un-trendiness? Me neither.