Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Raining Books in New York

Monaster/News, Thomas
Here we go again with another sad case of book trashing.  I realize that putting soon-to-be-junked books into the hands of readers who would really appreciate them is a lot easier said than done.  And, in this particular case, it appears that the folks just ran out of time to move the books to new, appreciative homes - or, at least, they claim they did.

According to the New York Daily News, this is what happened:
It was raining books outside St. Michael's Academy in midtown Monday.

The Education Department not only threw out thousands of books left in the building it is leasing from the Archdiocese of New York - it tossed them out the windows.
A massive stack of textbooks and literary works such as "Death of a Salesman" and "Sophie's Choice" sat piled more than 6 feet high on W. 33rd St. outside the building that will house the Clinton School for Writers and Artists in the fall. St. Michael's closed in June.

Archdiocese officials said they gave away as many books as possible before moving, but they ran out of time.

"When you close a school, there's an awful lot of work to do," said Mike Radice, who was in charge of the closeout of St. Michael's last spring.

The Education Department admitted to the trashing.

"There was no agreement with the archdiocese to save the books," a spokeswoman said. "We are recycling them." 
This does seem to be a combination of circumstances almost guaranteed to ensure that thousands of books would be destroyed rather than given away.  But, I still have to wonder why one or two people could not have stepped up and made all the difference, even in a situation where lack of time was the main culprit.  But was there really so little time?  Note the two words I've highlighted in red in the newspaper account of what happened.  These books apparently sat inside the school for several weeks before everyone "ran out" of the time needed to move them.

Just one guy from the Education Department willing to go the extra mile to coordinate with someone working with the Archdiocese of New York, or vice versa, could have made all the difference.
Where are book lovers when you need them?  Unfortunately, in this case, they were standing outside the school fence watching books fall from the sky.


  1. What a shame! So many books wasted.

  2. Just looking at that photo makes me feel so sad. If I'd been standing there, I would have climbed over that fence and got me some books!

  3. So true, Kayo, all turned to pulp because people were too slow and too lazy to do the right thing with these books.

  4. I'm with you, Jeanne. We could have made a break for it when they quit falling from the sky. It might have been a bit dangerous there for a while. :-)

  5. This is pure laziness and that is really a poor excuse that "they ran out of time". Why not just set these books up somewhere in this building and just announce/advertise for free books.

  6. Exactly right, Tandy. These things would have practically walked away if a little public notice of their availability had been given to the public. It's as if no one wants to do the right thing anymore...waste is the new national pastime.