Recently, in February of this year in fact, a particular public library system was investigated and found guilty of tossing garbage bags full of used library books into their dumpsters. Several of these books were still in excellent condition and this was not just a one time occurrence either.
The Knox County public library system, which is sponsored by the taxes that are paid by that counties residents, was recently investigated by one of the local news channels within the state of Tennessee and their investigation infuriated several Knox County residents. Across the county there are at least twenty public libraries and eighty percent of the libraries were found guilty of throwing away many garbage bags of books each week. The books that were recovered ranged from books for children to textbooks to magazines, but the most shocking thing was that some of the books looked as if they had never been opened. All of these books had been stamped by the library with their withdrawn stamp, which indicated that it was no longer within their system.
Knox County residents have been outraged at the findings of this investigation because they feel that the books could have easily been dedicated to schools, integrated library system day cares, boys and girls clubs, senior citizen centers, or they could have at least sold them to raised money for new books or computers for the libraries. Several of the books were taken to area retail book stores to determine what their value would be and the majority of the books would have at least gotten any where from seventy-five cents to a dollar. In fact, one text book was a biology book on endangered species and was worth twelve dollars, which was even more heartbreaking to take.
The director of the library was interviewed and a list of books that were recovered was presented to him and some of the books even surprised him. His only comment was that the library system had a set of procedures and policies that they had followed for several years and often times books had to be discarded due to their age, wear, and tear. He did say that he has began having each library sending him a discarded listing for approval prior to trashing the books.
The comments, procedures, and policies by the director and the Knox County Public Library System in general are alarming. I never thought that in a country that are given the freedom of speech and there are so many individuals who can not read and write that we would have a public library system selfishly throwing away books. If the library no longer wanted to the books and did not have the time to deal with, then why did they not just offer them to the individuals that come into the libraries on a daily basis? This is so barbaric! There are several large retail book stores that will give books away that they can no longer sell in order to make room for new books, but they have enough appreciation for them not to toss them in the dumpster!