Elderly man’s junk is book and devotional treasure

Elderly man’s junk is book and devotional treasure

“Yonkers man’s collection of religious items a windfall for Catholic church”

A collector’s passion for Roman Catholic books and devotional objects became a surprise blessing for a church when a junk-removal company came calling.

David Soto, 32, an employee with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, contacted St. Peter’s Church at 91 Ludlow St. this month after the company was hired to clear out an elderly man’s two-bedroom apartment on Sunnyside Drive. The residence was packed floor-to-ceiling with goods in bags and boxes.

“It was as if we were taking from a religious store,” Soto said.

The man, whom the church and company declined to identify, was moving into a nursing home, and his family hired the company to throw out his possessions.

“My background is Catholic, and I couldn’t throw this out,” said Soto, a Yonkers resident who served as an altar boy at St. Peter’s and grew up in the parish.

Soto contacted the Rev. Arthur F. Rojas, and he ultimately accepted two truckloads, or about 1,000 pounds, of the goods.

The company’s trucks have a 15-cubic-yard capacity.

“Perhaps it was holy hoarding,” said Rojas, 38, who was ordained in May.

Rojas said the many books collected by the elderly man - coincidentally a former parishioner at St. Peter’s - were of a high quality.

The collection included an encyclopedia of the lives of saints and many books on Augustinian and Carmelite spirituality. Soto and his co-workers removed boxes of crucifixes, crosses, rosaries, scapulars, devotional cards, medals and icons.

You know you’re a Catholic book geek when, upon first reading this story, you feel regret because you don’t belong to that Yonkers parish so you could have first dibs at whatever great books were in the collection.

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  • You know you’re a Catholic book geek when, upon first reading this story, you feel regret because you don’t belong to that Yonkers parish so you could have first dibs at whatever great books were in the collection.

    Amen to that Dom!

    I want to approach our pastor about spiffing up our parish ‘library’. 

    Have you seen/obtained one of those :CueCat devices that they’re selling at http://www.LibraryThing.com?  It acts as an input device that reads ISBNs in order to make cataloging all your books onto LT easier.

    Another geeky tool to obtain.


    BTW, congratulations to you and Melanie on your latest news!

  • Lynne, I used to have a CueCat (got it for free during the original dot-bomb giveaway), but I don’t know where it is now.

    But that’s okay because I catalog my books using Delicious Library on my Mac. It uses the web cam to scan the bar code and enter in all the data from Amazon. Then I can just export to Library Thing.

  • If they came to my house it would look much like that old man’s – full to the brim of Catholic “stuff” and way too many Catholic books.

    I am starting a Catholic library for my parish and plan on donating many of them—so I am particularly interested in these cool cataloging devices – any more info on how and where to obtain them ? I need a software program that helps me catalog and keep track of the collection. Any ideas ?

  • Margie, you could create an account at http://www.librarything.com.  It costs $25 (for life! or $10 a year) to have your catalog online.  You build your catalog by importing ISBNs from a text file.  An easy way of building the text file is to use this CueCat tool (for $15, it can be obtained from LibraryThing).  It needs a USB port on your computer. 

    Once your catalog is built, you can export it to a spreadsheet so you’ll have a hard copy of it.  The nice thing about the online catalog is that parishioners can see the catalog from the comfort of their home.

    As for tracking who checks books out, you can use the low-tech honor system of asking people to write their name and phone number in a book when they take a book…

  • Lynne, thanks SO much – this is just what I was looking for.

    You just made my life a whole lot easier.

    I can’t wait to get strated cataloguing my books.

    I’m such a library geek – I work at one, too.

  • Margie, you’re so lucky to work in a library!  Long ago, I toyed with the idea of getting a degree in Library Science so I could get a job as a librarian.  For various reasons I didn’t do that…  long face

    If you have any more questions and want to email me, send a note to aquietcatholic @ gmail.com

  • I’m on a Mac & use Bookpedia. Got it “bundled” with CDpedia & DVDpedia. Love love love it. I know lots of folks love DL but Bookpedia is IT for me. Has “smart collections” which are great.

    The toughest thing about cataloging for me has been that both my husband and I have older books that have neither ISBNs nor (as he has British books that weren’t published in the US/Canada) LC numbers, so filling out the records and getting an LCCN can be tough sometimes. – I use the LofC cataloging system (more or less) to shelve our books, well, we have several thousand! First by room, i.e. location, then by LCCN.

    That is a rockin’ story BTW. How providential.

  • Age is a horrible thing. You work all your life, get sick and your family throws you away into a warehouse to die and toss your stuff in the trash. Dear Lord.

  • Lynne – believe me, library work is really not all that great. I do not have an MLS so my salary is union wage – good and better than average for someone as uneducated as myself – but only a few $$ less than the gals with MLS degrees I work with.

    Also, talk about BORING !!! The monotony somedays is overwhelming. I do ordering which is mostly data entry and some circ work, which is like being a glorified cashier : “Those are due back in 2 weeks” hundreds of times a day.

    The bright side is I’m surrounded by books, which I love. If only they were Catholic books ! I did work in a Catholic bookstore for 3 years but then had to get a “real” job.