Friday, May 17, 2019

Farewell to a book

Earlier this week, I went to put some books into a Little Free Library that's two blocks from my workplace in Lancaster. It's a former newspaper vending machine that's been converted into a library, which is kind of cool. What's not cool is that, when I opened it up, I found that it had been stuffed, willy-nilly, with books. Being smashed and jumbled into such a small space was not good for the books ... and one of them did not survive the traumatic event.

So I spent a few minutes tidying up the library, adding my books and putting everything into some order for the next person who might come along.

I set the mangled book aside, figuring I would just deposit it into a trash can.

Then I looked at it.

What a beauty it had once been! I knew I had to document it here — give it a proper farewell — before sending it off to its landfill or incinerator fate.

Much of the dust jacket was still intact. Here's a look...

The book was Mystery of the Third Mine, written by Robert W. Lowndes and published in 1953 by The John C. Winston Company. The glorious jacket was designed by Kenneth Fagg. The book itself has mixed reviews, but David Hann, reviewing it on Amazon in 2006, liked it and noted: "I read this novel as a boy and later as an adult because I wanted to read it once more before giving it to a nephew. The third mine of the title is on an asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. What I found fun and interesting about the book is how Robert Lowndes carried contemporary life styles, crime, music, and baseball, into the future."

There's another piece of great artwork inside: the endpapers by Alex Schomburg.

How could you not fall in love with books upon opening Mystery of the Third Mine and seeing that? As a kid in the 1950s, sure, but really as a kid in any era. Be kind to your old books, folks. They don't make 'em like they used to.

* * *

Speaking of Little Free Library, today is the nonprofit's 10th anniversary, and it's holding a big event today through Sunday. Here are the details:
May 17 is Little Free Library’s nonprofit birthday and this year, it also marks 10 years of Little Free Libraries! We invite you and book-lovers everywhere to celebrate this big moment by participating in The Big Share the weekend of May 17 – 19. It’s simple, here’s how:

Step 1: Stop by a Little Free Library May 17 – 19 and share a book.

Step 2: Take a photo of your visit.

Step 3: Tell us you participated! Share your photo with #LFL10 on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If you prefer not to share a photo, click the participation button on our Big Share counter (available on this page starting May 17).

Step 4: Rinse and repeat! You don’t have to stop at just one Little Library, visit several! You get bonus points if you share a photo on social with #LFL10, because you’ll be entered to win a $20 e-gift card to Little Free Library’s online store.

We’ll be watching for your photos and sharing them on our website and social media. Check out the FREE 10th Anniversary bookmark and sticker designs below, too.

We’re excited to have you join us for The Big Share! Please help spread the word by asking your friends and family to join the fun, or by inviting them to The Big Share Facebook Event. Learn more about our year-long 10th Anniversary Celebration.


  1. Looks like a cool book and love that cover not to mention Golden Age comic artist Alex Schomburg inside!
    I'm in the planning stages of building a Little Free Library. My daughter can't decide how she wants it to look. I plan on stocking it with all the vintage kids books I can't seem to stop bringing home from garage sales.

    1. That's awesome, Tom! Good luck with the construction. It will be a great thing for your neighborhood.