February 17, 2018

$1,100 trash cans part of Detroit library fixup

Chairs are not the only thing that cost $1,100 apiece in a controversial renovation of a Detroit Public Library wing. So did the trash cans, according to the Detroit News. The $2.3 million remodel of the South Wing of the Main Library opened to the public Tuesday, and documents obtained this week by The News show it includes eight stainless-steel trash cans that cost taxpayers about $8,900.

See also in LJ:

Detroit PL Working on Aggressive Budget Reduction Plan

Detroit Worst Case Budget Scenario: Close 18 Out of 23 Branches, Lose 191 Staffers

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley (mkelley@mediasourceinc.com) is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.



  1. Scout Calvert says:

    Library directors and boards across the country must stand up and come to Detroit Public Library’s defense on these particular expenditures. Other expenditures may turn out to be wasteful, but these two items are not the symbols of gratuitous waste people think they are.

    Institutional furniture costs more. It has to be built to withstand use day in and day out. This year’s Brodart price list features lounge furniture–probably not as attractive as the furniture selected for Detroit’s renovation–and the cheapest piece is more than $1,000. It is possible to purchase institutional waste cans for less than $1,000, but the durable ones we see in public spaces every where go for more than $1,300.

    For the library press to report only the expense side without the context is irresponsible at best. At least a few of the top google hits for searches on DPL’s trash cans bring up racist sites devoted to smearing Detroit and the city’s inhabitants, including images of “pimped out” gold chairs and waste bins. In this light, the library community’s silence on the matter of the true costs of these things looks rather like collusion.

    Let Detroit Public Library take the heat, and maybe no one will notice that every library in the United States is stocked with expensive furniture. Or library leaders can take this bull by the horns and explain that purchasing furniture designed for institutional use is the fiscally responsible thing to do.

  2. Jean Gaskill says:

    As a public library director and the one who is in charge of purchasing, I find nothing out of line with the costs for the chairs & trash cans. My board of trustees & I are often left breathless by the cost of some of our equipment but that’s the way it is. For example, book trucks, depending on the size, run between $400 & $900 each then the real kicker is the freight shipping that is added on. When you look at the amount of use the equipment is getting and the number of different people who use it, it’s just poor management to buy cheap. Buying cheap sets the library up in a constant loop of replacement.

  3. Dave Watkins says:

    Certainly good to see that the $1112.50 trash cans are a reasonable expenditure. Just too bad someone hasn’t come out with something just as good but significantly less expensive. If I was younger I might give it a try. Might make a good project for a Wayne State engineering class.

  4. Rodger Williams says:

    The issue isn’t the cost of chairs or trash cans, as outrageously expensive as they are (IMHO), as much as it is $2.3 MILLION in UN-BUDGETED spending (actually, seems that there was much more of that than just this one project). Meanwhile, with the coming round of lay-offs to be announced next week, the DPL will have eliminated nearly 200 employees. Glad to hear public library directors speak so eloquently on the virtues of over-priced furnishings while so many face unemployment (NOT!!!). Where are the cries for FORENSIC ACCOUNTANTS to examine DPL’s books???