Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Library Bureaucracy at Its Best (Worst)

Apparently, head librarians in Brooklyn do not spend much time speaking with each other about what is happening in the library system there. From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle comes the story of a library system "begging for used books" while one of its branches simultaneously places boxes of them on the curb for garbage collectors.

A concerned neighbor notified this paper last week that the Brooklyn Heights branch library had thrown out cartons of readable books of all types. While passersby scavenged through the boxes, stacked for pickup with the rest of the trash on Clinton Street, the hour was late and a rainstorm threatened.
The timing of the book dumping was especially ironic considering that the Brooklyn Public Library will host its “Great American Book Drive” on Saturday, May 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Central branch at Grand Army Plaza. The library has partnered with the socially conscious online used bookseller Better World Books for this event.
Is this a firing offense? I would hope so but, if not, someone needs to be demoted all the way back to shelving books for a year or so.


  1. I can understand if there was mold or something that caused the books to be a health hazard.
    Now one time we had a bunch of old engineering and electronics texts donated and a board member told me to throw them in the dumpster because as she put it "who would want those?". The point I'm trying to make is sometimes it's the board members (who usually only visit the library for meetings) who tell the staff the get rid the the books.
    Oh yes, and I didn't throw the books out. We are near an Air Force Testing facility and the town is crawling with old engineers just waiting for us to get books like that.

  2. I had a hard time finding anyone who wanted my husband's college engineering textbooks (from the early 80s). Goodwill and Salvation Army wouldn't take them.

    Honestly. Have physics, calculus and chemistry changed that much in the past 30 years? I couldn't bear to throw them away. (But I couldn't understand why he hadn't sold them in school when they had some value!)

    The Milwaukee School of Engineering took them, not because they would use them but because they participate in a program that sends the books overseas. They said.

  3. Sam, it just kills me to see useful books thrown out for no reason other than that the library has no space for them. I understand that some books go completely out-of-date and do become useless, but they could be taken to a recycling collection point, at the least. Libraries just don't make any effort to do what's right in these cases - taking the easy, cheapest way out is wrong.

  4. Factotum, way to go. It took time and patience to find a home for books that still had some use to people who needed books like those. Most people are just too lazy to do what you did. I have tossed few books in my life (I much prefer giving them away) and the ones I've tossed were just trash - books so bad or so insensitive to certain groups that they needed to be pulped so I put them in paper collection bins.