Why Hennepin County Library is destroying thousands of books

Hundreds of thousands of perfectly good books are being tossed in recycling bins at a Hennepin County library. An outraged library worker was told "that's the way it works, so get used to it," but she still thinks it's a waste.

The library worker says many books are going straight from a shelf to a dumpster. As a county employee and a book lover, it's put her in a tough spot.

"It made me feel sick," she said. "I was horrified."

Officially, the Hennepin County Library system says they "deselect" about 500,000 books, DVDs and other material every year. Many of those materials are sold, and the last resort is recycling.

"Our policy is to recycle materials that are too damaged or in to poor a condition to be sold," library spokesperson Erica Skinner said. "And they do that to make sure that our materials are current and relevant and of interest to our patrons."

But for some, relevance is not the issue. Stacked in three cardboard boxes are books that shouldn't exist – books given a second life by this library employee.

"It makes me feel good that I am saving the books and giving them a new place to be read," she said.

Hennepin County says the books are supposed to be recycled and they are looking into why they ended up in the dumpster.


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