Now, we will assume that you bring in your torches, propane, and matches for a good reason. Your wife is in labor, say, and the furnace has gone out. Or a massive glacier is creeping slowly-but-steadily to the library you huddle in (in which case, watch out for wolves). Or perhaps you want to convince the local Inquisition that you ARE on their side, only you don't want to cause any lasting damage.
Or, perhaps, your local library board hasn't offered enough funding in the area of 'toilet paper'. In any event, welcome inside, and prepare for a 451-degree night of glory as we BURN THROUGH THE LIBRARY!
Where to set up your fire
First, gather anyone who is in the library with you into one spot. While you're at it, grab a book on wilderness survival (this will come in handy later). Now, look for a place to build your fire.
If your local library is carpeted, you might wish move out in the lobby for this. You want to burn some books, of course, but not the entire place (philistine tendencies aside, you probably wouldn't want to be stuck in a burning building)! You could also simply ring your fire spot with benches, book carts, or computer parts; or pull up some carpet at one spot. I'd suggest you set it up by the paperback section, because you'll be running to and from there quite frequently.
Setting up your fire
Open your survival guide to the page about 'Starting a Fire' (all survival books have these). You'll notice that the first thing you need is tinder. Go into the paperback section and look for 'E'- in particular 'Edwards, Cassie'. Search for anything in her 'Savage' series- 'Savage Fire', for instance. These tomes are about 250 pages each of pure, unadulterated crap- and, because it takes little effort to write two hundred pages of crap, there are many of them. Take as many as you like, and rip out a few pages from any. Bam! Instant tinder.
Do everything else as the survival guide tells you to. Please don't burn the guide, because it might prove important later on, especially if it has either 'how to put out a fire' or 'what to do when you're trapped in the library with a glacier approaching' in its table of contents.
Feeding the flames
Now you're fires crackling merrily, but it won't last long on trashy romance alone- it needs heartier fare! For this, you might need someone who watches daytime TV a lot. What you're looking for now is books from Oprah's Book Club.
Wait, wait, wait. Don't stone me- the reason you're searching out these books isn't because they're BAD, but because there are SO DARN MANY OF THEM. Y'see, every time Oprah reads a book, every library in the country orders at least a dozen copies of said book, in either paperback, hardcover, audio, and for all we know, CliffNotes. Save one copy (if you feel you must) and burn the rest.
A higher law is survival 'Robert's Rules of Order' is a book of parliamentary procedure that you can probably find around 060.1 using the Dewy Decimal system. Since none of you are planning to have a debate anytime soon, everything in this section could be theoretically barbecued. However, once the glaciers retreat you may need to build a new state, with new parliamentary procedure. For this reason, the newest OR the clearest version of Robert's Rules should be kept. The rest can burn.
Voting with matches
This step works easiest when you're alone, or when everyone in your group is of the same political party. Otherwise, you'd best skip it. You might be all that's left of the human race, after all, and it wouldn't do to narrow down your numbers any farther.
Go to the 977's. Pull down all books there written by members of the political party/parties you oppose. Burn them.
Quality over quantity
Bestsellers go next. Like Oprah's Book Club, really popular books have 3-7 copies each on the library shelves. Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, and James Patterson will always have more than one copy of at least one book. Danielle Steel might or might not have repeats; there's so many of HER that it's hard to tell. You will likely be forgiven, however, if you choose to burn them all and forget the whole thing.
The Da Vinci Code also has many copies, but you can do your part to remedy that.
Mitch Albom's heartwarmers usually come in packs as well, but as they're rather thin it's probably not worth your time to use them for warming anything else.
And it's so long!
Now search for 'Goodkind, Terry'. Burn everything you find there. The Sword of Truth is not a series worth freezing over, by any means, and the best part is that there's plenty to go around: almost a dozen books, each around 700 pages. If you're lucky the rest of your stay at the library might be covered by SoT and Oprah alone.
If not, each library usually has at least two copies of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged', each one long enough to burn for a good half-hour. So that's another hour's heat.
Anything by Anne Rice after 'Queen of the Damned' can go. If you can't tell the order of the books, burn them all. As with Daniele Steel, it won't be a great loss if you 'slip up'.
Not repeats, technically…
Go to 'Gear, Michael & Kathleen O'Neal'. Pick one book from the First Americans series- preferably the one with the prettiest cover art. The rest can burn, because, you see, every book contains the exact same characters, events, and layout.
The same goes for any of Julie Garwood's books that take place in medieval Scotland.
The Young Adult's Section
By now the shelves will probably be looking quite bare, and you can be excused if you feel a bit nervous now. But not to fear- there is still more of the library to burn through!
If you library, like mine, has dedicated three shelves each to J.K. Rowling and Lemony Snicket, do what you can to narrow them down. Keep one copy of each book, of course, unless you wish to rip out a few certain pages from Deathly Hallows, in which case you shall be forgiven. 'Paloni, Christopher'. Anyone who has read the Inheritance trilogy understands me exactly. If you're lucky, you'll be trapped in a library at a time after the third book has been written; and by the tendency of each book to get longer by twice and worse by half with each progression, Book III alone should keep you for the rest of the Ice Age.
My directions for the rest of the Young Adult section is simple: and book that either a) has a title in chatspeak, b) has a young woman's body, outline, or in any other way shows a young woman without her face, or c) shows kids in clothing that was either 'cool' in the 70s or has never been in style, can be burned without a tear. Then you can start working your way through every book about Anne Frank except, of course, her own diary. Actually, just about all young adult nonfiction is superfluous, covering topics with half the depth of the adult section with terms twice as confusing as those in the juvenile books.
After you've done all the above and gone through all of the paperback section, if help STILL hasn't arrived…
Look for tax law.
After that, you might want to start heading south, or looking for helicopters. Or talking to your local library board.
The Trustees of Library Burning 10/20/07