Home of Canadian who saved collection from being burned now threatened by their bulk
by: Alison Flood
A Canadian woman's house is collapsing under the weight of the 350,000 books she rescued from a neighbour who was planning to burn them after her bibliophile husband died.
Shaunna Raycraft, from Pike Lake, Saskatchewan, stepped in when her widowed neighbour began to burn her husband's collection of books. "There was a house floor-to-ceiling with books. He was the collector; she had tried to get someone to appraise the books but they wouldn't come out [to the rural setting]. She didn't know how to deal with them so she started to burn them," Raycraft told Canadian national broadcaster CBC.
But Raycraft and her husband, both book lovers, couldn't stand to see the book bonfire – "There was a first edition copy of Black Beauty on the top pile and the bottom was all charred off [from being burned] but the top was just immaculate," she said – and bought the lot. Thirty tonnes of books later, she realised what she had let herself in for. From How-To manuals to a 1907 first edition of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Two Bad Mice, Shakespeare to textbooks, the collection was so large the couple had to buy a small house and install it on their land to store the books, which fill 7,500 boxes.
"It took a minimum of three days to pack the baseball books alone into boxes [and] five days for the Bibles and religious texts," she told UPI. "Most of the boxes are still unopened and unsorted."
After trying and failing to sell the books online and to used book stores, Raycraft is now having to contemplate burning them herself. "We're talking 30 tonnes of books. The weight of the books is pulling the house apart," she said. "We are kind of at a standstill. I work at two jobs. My husband is a full-time student. We have three kids and no time. And no money. And so we're at the point now where were looking at having to burn some of the books ourselves."
Her goal, she said, is to get a sea container brought to the house to help store the books. "When you say to somebody, 'I have 350,000 books,' it just goes over their head — they have no concept. It's very hard to take a box in and say, 'Here, sort through this and see what you want'," she said.