Library dumps books

The Rockford Public Library’s trash bin is “nearly overflowing” with what a library official said are unused and unwanted books. Judith Long, associate director of public service for the library, said the large quantity of discarded books is the result of a delayed “weeding-out process.”

According to Long, the process hasn’t been conducted at its usual intervals in the recent past, which has resulted in a large volume of books being dumped at this time.

At least two trash bin full of books have been taken away. The volume of books being thrown out raised concern among sources. Generally, the discarded books have not been circulated in four or five years. Reportedly, runners have been sent down to get books that were to be discarded because patrons requested some of these low-circulation books. Sources ask why no notice has been given to the public and why these books are not put out for the public to take if they want them. Another concern was the reputation of the Rockford Public Library as a “resource” library in the region being replaced with the reputation as a “popular” library.

The Rock River Times was not permitted to look at the books slated for disposal.

Long said the library has to remove books to provide space for newer books. The library targets unused books officials deem expendable, such as cookbooks or outdated medical books. However, half of the foreign language collection has been taken off the shelves. The automotive repair collection has also been hit particularly hard. The library tries to sell the books to private book outlets, such as The Book Stall (1032 Crosby St., Rockford).

What the library can’t sell, Long said, Friends of the Library sifts through the books and sells them to the public-many for less than a dollar. Friends of the Library is a private, non-profit group that assists the library in selling and storing books, at the library’s main facility at 215 N. Wyman St.. Books unsold or unwanted by Friends of the Library are dumped because of a lack of storage space.

Mary Ann Sarver, president of Friends of the Library and a retired librarian, said the books being discarded are “outdated, unused and in poor condition.” Sarver said every library has to make tough decisions on what books to save and discard. Sarver added that the group would like to sell and store more books; however, the group simply lacks space.

The group sells used books at the main library, Monday through Saturday, during morning and afternoon hours. Sarver said the group will hold its large, biannual used book sale for the public Oct. 17-18, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information about the library, call 965-7606 or visit:

Karen Van Drie, the library’s executive director, was on vaction this week and unavailable for comment.

Editor and Publisher Frank Schier contributed to this article.

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