The book sale to benefit SLO library is a much-enjoyed annual event, and the sale that just occurred was no exception. The aftermath of the sale, however, was a disgrace to every cultural and intellectual value a library and its friends should stand for. Tens of thousands of beautiful, wonderful books, tapes, CDs, and videos were tossed into a dumpster. This year even more books than usual were dumped because there was no “buck a bag” clearance, which would help put books into the hands of less affluent readers and reduce leftovers.
Why was such profligate waste permitted? Was it too much trouble to save leftovers for the next sale, as most libraries do? Was it too much trouble to offer them to schools, to nonprofits, to thrift stores? What about contributing them to the nearby urban poor, or even to foreign users? What are donors to make of the fact their donations fill a dumpster? Why should good cultural material go into a dumpster? What does it say about our library’s “friends” that they do this year after year?