August 21, 2020

TO THE EDITOR:

Attention to citizens and patrons of Newport Library:

Tonight, I have seen a sight that I could never have imagined in my worst nightmare. There is a dumpster behind Newport Library full of books. There is no cover on it and the books are dripping with rain. I cannot grasp the idea of anyone working for a library being willing to do such a thing. It is unthinkable.

When we left the library on our last day, June 26, all books had been gone through and those on lists for “Better World Books” had been pulled and mailed. That pointless situation was sad enough for staff to deal with, but we know that books left after that were in good shape and were circulating with our patrons because we were the ones checking them out and delivering them to their cars.

Now it appears the remainder of the collection is being purged for no reason. The dumpster is full of books by Danielle Steel, Lisa Scottoline, Sandra Woods, Janet Evanovich, John Sandford, John LeCarre’, Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, etc. These are not obsolete authors and the books were not moldy or damaged. That is the excuse that the new administration has been claiming and it is a Lie, as was the story she told a patron this morning, that these books were from a storage unit that was not climate controlled. The library only had one storage unit, it Was climate controlled and it did Not contain books at all. It was full of themed items for the children’s program. (This unit was emptied as well, another waste of money.) The books in the dumpster came directly off of the library shelves.

Library staff know that if a book is returned in bad shape it is discarded At That Time. You don’t return a moldy, water damaged, animal damaged, or any other type of damaged book to the shelf. It is handled appropriately at the time. This is a monstrous waste of money and a travesty to a library collection that was painstakingly created through years of small budgets and patron donations. If this new administration felt the need to sweep the collection just for the sake of change, even where change was not warranted, they could, at the very least, offer them to the Newport Friends for their ongoing book sale. Throwing them in an open dumpster in the rain tells me that they have no true love of reading, because someone dedicated to books would never treat them in this manner.

This county management might be impressed with their new director and her MLS degree but that education is worthless if there is no respect for the books.

Many of the books lying out in the rain tonight are parts of popular series. I saw books by Joanne Fluke, who writes a cozy mystery series that is on Hallmark Channel and these titles constantly circulated. We had scraped a long time to have all of the titles. The horror novel, “NOS4A2” by Joe Hill, is also a current series on AMC and is asked for by patrons. It was in perfect condition, but now resides in a wet dumpster. All of the authors listed in the first paragraph are very popular checkouts at our branch. These are Not books that just sit on the shelf.

As we were forced to weed our shelves, we made sure the “Library of America” classics remained. Newport had an impressive collection of these, thanks to gracious donations by the Newport Moose, the Newport Rotary Club, and various other civic groups, and they all had dedication bookplates inside. These are CLASSICS. They belong in every library and we were proud of ours. They do not belong in a dumpster.

We also found John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Robert Louis Stevenson…the list goes on and on. I shudder to think what will happen to our North Carolina history and genealogy collection. My estimate would be at least 500 books and the dumpster is only one third full at this point. What other beloved books are going to be tossed in there tomorrow?

Covid-19 is not the only reason no one is allowed inside the library. I challenge local officials to enter the building and see the effects of this purge in person.

This community needs to wake up and demand that this desecration of our town library is stopped.

CONCERNED CITIZENS for NEWPORT LIBRARY

(6) comments

Sleepwalker

Even damaged (to a point) books can be used. There’s no reason to throw those books out! There’s someone somewhere that would love to have them. Are churches still accepting donations during this virus thing? I know other places are.

SandFiddler

This is extremely heartbreaking, nauseating and disgusting. Is this what the new director,with the ridiculously high salary, getting paid to do? Obviously books aren't important to her or the commissioners who put her in this position. Our Commissioners, and especially Mark Mansfield, should realize they made some very poor decisions about our county's libraries. The enlightening July 15, 2019 Eastern Beacon article stated "the county commissioner liason to the regional library system board (Mark Mansfield) never attended a board meeting" and... the writer of that article "wondered how he could play part of the decision regarding the library". I wonder too and can't help but wonder if his real estate ventures were more important to him than fulfilling the responsibility of his position as liason to the library system board. Folks this is who YOU ELECTED as a commissioner! These books, at the very least, should have been given to Salvation Army, the Senior Center and distributed among thrift stores, assisted living facilities or even placed at the hospital for staff, patients, and visitors to read. There are so many people who would have appreciated and enjoyed these books!

Always A Teacher

Some of the thrift shops, such as PAWS, might take the books. They can be sold to people who want them for their own use/libraries and support the animal population. Throwing away books in good condition is a travesty.

mpjeep

Such bad news....so many people would want these books. I hope some officials see this and do something about it, at least stop it from happening again.

I want the John Sanford books...he's in my top 5 favorite authors.

Susan DeWitt Wilder

i am glad to see the public's attention drawn to the indiscriminate culling and disposal of books from the public libraries of Carteret County. Much has been going on behind closed doors. Fortunately, because we learned early on the collection of the Down East Library was being culled (and because our Library did not have a dumpster!), we were able, over the course of two months, to collect and "rehome" nearly three thousand books that were in good condition, and to save irreplaceable Down East history publications. Books from the Down East Library were welcomed by the East Carteret High School Library, the Bridge DownEast, two food pantries, Carteret Hospital, the Newport prison, a mobile home park of mostly elderly people, and the women's shelter. I am deeply concerned that the collection of books in our County has been gutted, and that so many books ended up in dumpsters. What will be the cost of replacing those books and is there a plan to do so? We were promised we would save money by withdrawing from the regional system, however there has never been any financial justification presented to the public. The disastrous decision to withdraw was made in executive session by the commissioners without the knowledge of or input from the public, the County Library Trustees, or the Friends of the Libraries. I do want to correct a misapprehension in one of the comments in this thread. I was the writer of the letter to the editor published in the Eastern Beacon last July warning that we should not withdraw from the Regional Library System. The commissioner liaison to the System at that time was Bill Smith, not Mark Mansfield. I did not include a name. Mr. Smith was identified by the Editor of the News TImes in a comment at the end of my letter. Sadly, at a time when our Library should be taking the lead to ease our social shutdown, it appears to be in chaos.

SandFiddler

Susan Wilder, thank you for calling attention to my error. I reread your magnificent letter and I sincerely apologize to all concerned. With that being said, I still feel the public should pay close attention to our commissioners' poor decisions and remember it at voting time. Some of their decisions are good but some are not. I'm so thankful the Down East Library found good homes for their books.

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