Swansboro, N.C.

Nov. 2, 2020


As a retired Marine Officer and a longtime county resident I am quite concerned about what is going on with our county library system. It appears that our new county librarian has embarked on a severe program of book culling within each library. It also appears that many of the books selected for disposal are military history books.

This county is heavily populated with military retirees and veterans that have always been interested in these subjects. It concerns me that our library system seems to be going down a path that is counter to the reading needs of our veteran population.

At the Western Carteret Public Library, I have seen books by such renowned authors as Stephen Ambrose and Cornelius Ryan removed. The venerable 39 volume Time-Life series on WWII within the Freedom Collection was decimated after fourteen individual volumes were sold to Better World Books. The remaining twenty-five volumes were disposed of and remain in the Friends of Western Carteret Public Library’s used bookstore, Second Chances. One could see by the outer covers that these were well-used and respected resource books.

I would ask that our county librarian stop disposing books until she has some time within the county and gains a better appreciation of this county’s demographics.


Colonel, USMC (Retired)

(8) comments


Oh, please Ms. Mason, stop the madness.

David Collins

When you get new leadership you also get consequences . This subject has been posted and discussed to death with no reaction from those that made the decision for needed or unneeded change . Always a back story and that has not seen the light of day , yet . History has shown that purges of written material never bode well .


Good letter, Colonel. This is perplexing to say the least. I realize that libraries have a tendency to cull the herd so that room can be made for new books but literally throwing them away (from some reports) is inexcusable. It's probably time to bring both the county librarian and those connected to the library including administrators and elected officials to the carpet for explanation. When in doubt, box the books up and send them to less privileged areas of the state or nation that lack the resources (especially when it comes to books and libraries) that Carteret County has.


It seems like every week we have at least one letter to the editor about library book disposal. So, I decided to spend some time looking into this compelling argument, only from a “librarians point of view”.

I’m not saying I agree or disagree with this information, but just provide it from another perspective. I know that most folks on this site, including me, feel it’s a terrible waste to discard books.

Most libraries have a policy for eliminating books that are dated, unwanted/unused or damaged. The ultimate factor is space, as new books come in. But this elimination process can, at times, incite a riot in folks. Weeding or deselection of books is one of the hardest, most painful tasks that a librarian must perform.

People will tell libraries to donate their withdrawn materials, but donate them where? If they weren’t good enough for patrons, they’re probably not good enough for others. Libraries will try to sell their better condition weeded books, but used book stores and online book retailers don’t really want them. Applied science and technology books change every few years and no longer speak to anyone. Some books do outlive their usefulness.

A librarian throws out books because no one else dares to do it. And it must be done. People think there is a big market for used books on eBay or Amazon, but that’s not true. And the time it takes to catalog and upload books is extremely labor intensive.

Many people are shocked to learn that both public and school libraries generally do not accept donations of books that are more than two or three years old. Bogue Banks Library, has set aside a small space for the selling of used books, maybe charging 25 cents to a buck per book.

Most libraries try donation before discarding to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. But keep in mind that charitable and for-profit organizations are selective about what they will accept. And they usually won’t take the quantity of books that must eventually be discarded.

Some people suggest that the books should be donated to less developed nations, but libraries have been down this road with very poor results. The cost of packing and shipping books is immense, and as the people of those nations would be better served by new books in their native language, there are better ways to get information to the developing world.

At some point, after you have tried to donate or sell, recycling may be the best option. At least it will make the tree huggers happy.

But, to think that librarians will never throw books away is Naive.

And now you know -- the rest of the story.


Mpjeep does not know the whole story. I agree that some books are hard to get rid of but 14 tons went in the landfill instead of recycling. Classics that should have remained in the collection were trashed. Books by the historian at Fort Macon were also thrown in the dumpster. By the way, Fort Macon is on Bogue Banks.

The “small space” in the front of the Bogue Banks Public Library is no longer available since the Friends of the Bogue Banks Public Library are no longer welcome in the library. But you can always stroll down the hall to the Book Nook where approximately 3,000 gently used books are for available.

If you really want to know the rest of the story, join the Friends of the Bogue Banks Public Library.


Just saying there are 3 sides to every story.


Some of these “letters to the editor” about Library issues are really about “Change”. Most people don’t like change, especially organizational and restructure changes.

People feel change is a loss of control over their territory and are being pushed out of their comfort zone. And I have read a bit of “sour grapes” in some of the early letters to the editor.

Can’t find much usable info on Friends of the Library, but they do have a Facebook page, but I don’t belong to Facebook.

From what I can tell, it’s mostly an “exchange of ideas” group, with touchy-feely mission and purpose statements. They do offer a great service for used book sales.

It’s been two years since I’ve visited Bogue Banks Library, so I wasn’t aware that the “small space”, to sell books, was no longer there.

Why has it been so long since my return, given I’m an avid reader: some of my favorite authors are Connelly, Sanford, Baldacci, Grisham and Patterson. I’ve read all the books the library has from these authors, and I must say, most of them are at least ten years old and not in the best condition.

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.


Speaking of Books:

I’ve been a huge ice hockey fan most of my life and have 3 teams I follow due to living in their hometowns and going to many games….Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes.

In 2004, I was watching an interview with The Tampa Bay Lightning’s head coach, John Tortorella. Tort was making a book, Good to Great, required reading for all of his players. I decided to read the book as well.

The motivational book was written with business leaders in mind and made comparisons of companies that made the leap from Good To Great and why others didn’t.

Coach Tort wanted his players to identify clear areas of transition that would move his team from good to great. In 2003 his team finished 2 wins away from the Stanley Cup. In 2004, his team won the Stanley Cup (top honors).

Sounds like what we should do here in the US…..Take us from Good to Great or Make America Great Again!

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