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