Over the years, Dolly Jones collected every Christmas book she could find—children’s books, cookbooks, comic books, mysteries—anything related to the holiday. She kept a handwritten bibliography of every item, which eventually totaled 3,000 volumes and filled her attic in Illinois.
When it came time to downsize, the family was at a loss with what to do with the beloved books. Jones, a librarian, music teacher and organist who is now 84, wanted to keep her collection intact. Initially, the 50 cartons of books were put into storage as the family searched for a place where the books could continue to be enjoyed. They offered the collection to the university library where Jones had worked, the library of her alma mater, and the local public library where she lived, but none had the space to accommodate all the books.
Then, they found the Internet Archive. The Jones family donated the Christmas collection to the Archive and now the books are preserved physically and will have a new home online.
“We were so grateful that the Internet Archive was interested. It seems like a great way for the collection to be saved,” said Sam Jones, one of Dolly’s three sons. “I sent an email to the Archive thinking it was a shot in the dark, but within hours I heard back. I was just beside myself. We are all very excited.”
The collection includes Christmas classics, dime-store novels and valuable first editions, as well as numerous versions of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, such as A Cajun Christmas Carol. Jones got many of the paperback and hardback books by combing thrift stores and antique shops. She didn’t set out to amass such a large collection, but over time it just grew.
“My mother always loved Christmas and lived for it year around,” says Sam Jones, who has fond memories of his mother reading the books to him and his brothers Tim and Nick as children, and to her six grandchildren when they would gather for Christmas at the family home in DeKalb, Illinois.
Dolly Jones, who now lives with her youngest son Nick, in Colorado, has a master’s in library science and worked as a reference librarian for years. She always had a book in her purse and enjoyed giving books as gifts. The Christmas book collection was dear to the family and they never considered breaking it up or selling it, says Sam Jones. The family repacked the boxes of books and the Internet Archive arranged for pick up. The books will soon be on their way to an Internet Archive digitization center where they will be scanned and made available for borrowing through archive.org.
“Mom will be thrilled to see this online,” says Sam Jones. “We are all very excited. It seems absolutely perfect and a way to be respectful of all the work she put into the collection.”
If you have a collection like Dolly’s that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials: