There sure are a lot of busybodies in the world, and some of them just aren’t content to let libraries be libraries.
The thing the busybodies really can’t stand is seeing books thrown away at libraries, because every book is a precious item as long as you don’t have to keep it in your own home.
I’ve written about the weeding busybodies. They pass a dumpster full of old library books and their first thought isn’t to mind their own business or assume there’s a good reason for a library to be throwing away books.
No, it’s to believe that the barbarians have stormed the gates and civilization is nearing the end.
However, it turns out that even if the books aren’t old library books, busybodies will complain.
In Hawaii, a viewer “called to tell KHON2 hundreds of donated books are tossed out weekly at Kaimuki public library and asked us to find out why.” Because it would have been entirely too much trouble to just walk into the library and ask someone.
Being the good investigative journalists that they are, KHON2 sent an undercover reporter to infiltrate the Friends of the Library for three months to find out the scintillating truth behind this scandal.
No, not really. They called up the library and talked to a library assistant, who is even identified as such.
It turns out that dumpster gets filled two to three times a week with discarded donations.
Unsurprisingly, the library “can’t use books that have stains, bug droppings or pages torn, so they go in the dumpster. Magazines more than a year old are are also not good donations.”
You have to wonder what some people are thinking when they donate their garbage or recycling to the library instead. The world can survive without that battered copy of The Firm that you can’t bear to throw out.
The weirdest donations might be the magazines. “‘Time,’ ‘Newsweek,’ ‘People’ — the things that change so quickly, you don’t want two years ago, people who aren’t even married anymore are on the cover.” That’s a good line.
This implies that not only are there people who save their People Magazines, no doubt for reference purposes, but that some of those people believe others will benefit from their old People Magazines once the reference purposes have been personally exhausted.
Some people are just crazy, I guess.
Libraries already have old copies of People, and nobody would want to buy them at a book sale. Old books I can at least see someone thinking are valuable, but old People Magazines? I just don’t get it.
What I loved about the story is the library assistant calmly setting the busybody straight.
“If you wouldn’t want to look at it or pay $1 for it, if it’s not clean or in good condition, why would we put it out for anyone else?” she said.
Hmm, that almost seems to make sense. But KHON2 didn’t want to stop there with the thoughts of a mere library assistant.
“Other charities KHON2 called, including Goodwill, say they follow the same guidelines for donations.”
Stop the virtual presses. It’s as if the library has a perfectly sound and rational policy about discarding old crap that nobody wants but that some deluded people can’t bear to just throw away themselves.
Librarians have a reputation for being an idealistic lot. They go into debt earning master’s degrees to work in low paying jobs so they can serve the public, after all, so how realistic could they be.
But in cases like this we see librarians in a new public light. They have the will and courage to see books and magazines for what they are and to make the hard decisions that ordinary people can’t bear to.
Mere normals look at an old stained paperback book and see a precious commodity, not precious to them of course, but precious to somebody!
Librarians look at the same book and see it for the trash it is.
Bold librarians making hard choices. It’s what we do.