Library books, as it turns out, live on borrowed time. But what happens to the books that a librarian decides are no longer worth stocking?
When a concerned resident “rescued” ten boxes of disposed books from garbage bins behind Leichhardt Library, he contacted the Inner West Independent.
Jefferson Lee said he was told by a library employee that books are placed on a sale table, and if they are not sold, are dumped for incineration. Mr Lee also claims he was told that charities such as the St Vincent de Paul society do not stock ex-library books.
The Independent could not verify this conversation, but a spokesperson for Leichhardt Council said its libraries “make every effort to find new homes for books in a useable condition”.
Some books are not resold or given away because they contain outdated medical, government or technical information. Those that cannot be rehoused are recycled rather than dumped or burnt, the spokesperson said.
At Balmain Library at the weekend, a staff member said books are never thrown away but are given to nursing homes and similar destinations.
But Leichhardt Council said that was incorrect, and that any books not sold at Balmain are passed over to Leichhardt.
The Independent confirmed with the St Vincent de Paul society and the Salvation Army that ex-library books are accepted in reasonable condition. Salvos Stores CEO Neville Barrett said his organisation routinely works with libraries, and that books are accepted as long as the donor has the authority to donate them.
However, there is a question of capacity. A Council spokesperson said charities could not possibly accommodate the 1.7 million books disposed of by public libraries in 2011/12, for example.
“The library is happy to donate books to not for profit groups wanting to redistribute the books,” the spokesperson said. “If the Salvation Army wishes to take ex-library books they are more than welcome to do so.”