It's just a sad fact of life that a library has a limited number of bookshelves on which to house its collection as the books come and go each day. And it's another given that the rate at which books are published each year results in libraries being faced with the constant battle of "out with the old and in with the new." We as readers demand that our public libraries make available the latest novels, poetry and non-fiction, but at the same time we expect to find our old friends on the shelves when we want to revisit them. Of course this puts libraries in a no-win situation. I'm always amazed when I request a book from even as recently as the 1980s from my county library system and they actually find a copy for me. Regular library visitors understand the process and know that the culling is necessary even though the thought of so many books being trashed still breaks their hearts. And some are still shocked when they see the culling process in action.
Upset when she spotted two large garbage bins full of books, a Newmarket resident is calling on the town to improve how it discards materials from its public library....
"When I visited the library, I saw two blue industrial bins overflowing with books," Kelly Ritter said.
"Most were kids' novels, many were in good shape and some were brand spanking new. I was shocked."
Library staff are defending the move, however.
Bins were needed because library staff had just "weeded through the children's section to make room for a young adult section," library chief executive officer Pat Wilson said.
Like all libraries across Ontario, the Newmarket Public Library has a process in place to discard books, Ms Wilson stressed.
Books no long suitable are sold for 10 cents each at the library, while others are donated to agencies, literacy groups, seniors centres and prisons, Ms Wilson said.
Sorting through the bins, Ms Ritter said she came away with "a bag full of books" suitable for her family.
"My son picked out a number of books for his sister," Ms Ritter said.
"Other people who could use some of these books if they knew they were available. There are people in our town who can't afford books. Let's not forget them. A free sign could be put on their bins."
I understand how the lady feels. I would almost certainly do a little "dumpster diving" of my own if I found a couple of trash bins behind my local library that were stuffed with library discards. How about you? Be honest now...