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Library system destroyed 250,000 of its own books

virginia cost cutting digital age crowded shelves unfortunate consequences

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#1 Hum

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 12:55

The Fairfax County Public Library system in Virginia reportedly destroyed 250,000 books as part of an effort to revamp its system and cut costs.

The Washington Post reports that the books were discarded as part of a plan to reduce costs and bring the county’s library system into the digital age.

But in the past, discarded books were donated to a group called Friends of the Library, which would then donate them or sell them to raise money for the libraries, which have faced steep budget cuts in recent years. This time, seven months went by with no books going to the group — and no explanation why.

County Supervisor Linda Smyth told the Post that when she heard about the disappearing books, she traveled to a local branch to investigate and found a dumpster full of volumes that had been recently trashed. Many of them were still considered highly relevant, like a book from the “Harry Potter” series, a Fodor’s travel guide book and a copy of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

“If I didn’t pick up some of these books,” Smyth told the paper. “no one would believe it.”

After Smyth’s discovery, a directive was sent out suspending county libraries from discarding any more books until a new solution can be found.

Elizabeth Rhodes, the system’s collection services coordinator, said Fairfax County adds about 20,000 items each month and must remove an equal number of items in order to preserve space in the crowded libraries.

Fairfax County library director Sam Clay also defended discarding the books, saying it was a necessary part of bringing the libraries from “a print environment to a digital environment” and an unfortunate consequence of budget cuts. “We’ve got decrease after decrease,” he said.

The American Library Association keeps track of library systems across the nation that have been affected by budget cuts. The Fairfax County Public Library system had a 2013 budget of approximately $27 million, with about $2 million of that offset through revenue generated by the libraries themselves.

Smyth told the Post that despite the thousands of books lost, she hopes the news will lead to a renewed effort to fund public libraries.

“Maybe this is a good thing,” she said, “because we finally have people’s attention to talk about the future of libraries.”

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#2 _dandy_

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:00

Title says "destroyed".  Article says "discarded".  Not quite the same thing.



#3 vetneufuse

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:08

we have a budget issue, so throw away books that are still worth money instead of selling them off!!!!!!! makes lots of sense right?



#4 OP Hum

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:12

Title says "destroyed".  Article says "discarded".  Not quite the same thing.

 

^ From the Washington Post:

 

In addition, the library moved to a “floating collection” system this year and for seven months stopped providing discarded books to volunteer Friends of the Library groups for resale or distribution to the needy. About 3,000 books have since been provided to Friends groups, but about 250,000 books, many in good shape, were destroyed, county officials said. Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) held up some of the library books she rescued from a Dumpster in late August and said, “These should not have been in the Dumpster."



#5 arachnoid

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:30

Burning books, what have we come to...........



#6 68k

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:43

What about the environment? Did they even consider using a recycled paper dumpster? :angry:



#7 OP Hum

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 13:52

Burning books, what have we come to...........

Just thrown in a dumpster -- not burned.

 

 

Who can read these days ... ?



#8 Albert

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:04

beginning of the end of civilization in america.

 

the rest of the world will be fine. thank gawd.



#9 arachnoid

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:14

Mind most of those US historical books are probably incorrect anyway.Yes Hum I did make up the term burned but it was meant as an example of wastage and a historical reminder during the dire period of German history where books were burnt by brown shirts.



#10 +Harrison H.

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:17

Burning books, what have we come to...........

 

Fahrenheit 451 anyone?
 



#11 OP Hum

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 14:34

There should be a Law passed -- if a book can not be donated to other needy libraries, sold to the public, then it should be digitized and available on the internet. ;)



#12 Growled

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 18:53

What a waste. I hope they find the dumbass responsible and make him pay for them.





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