The first rite of passage upon learning how to write one’s name was to inscribe it on a library check-­‐out card promising the book’s safe journey and return. I remember reading the list of names that had come before me and feeling that I was a part of this book’s history and it’s shared, communal experience exposed by curly-­‐Q handwritten names revealing repeat customers devouring the book beyond it’s deadline. An act of declaration that’s dissolving faster than we can see as cards are removed permanently and bar codes take their place.

The Japanese term “wabi-­‐sabi” is described as the art of finding beauty in imperfection and of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay and death. Unlike the American culture focused on spectacle, wabi-­‐sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of undeclared beauty waiting patiently to be discovered. It’s found
in time-­‐worn faces of expired library books that have traveled through many hands, and across county lines until they have reached their final resting place at ex-­‐library warehouses where safe harbors are found in Costco-­‐sized rows of “discards” rising within inches of the ceiling.