It's okay. Just recycle it.
I manage our condo's community library. Once a week, I review all the books and magazines that have accrued since my last check. Most of the material is great stuff worth leaving for others to view. Sometimes, however, I collect a big stack of stuff to chuck in our recycling bins. Usually, it's just a few outdated magazine issues or paperbacks in awful shape. Occasionally, however, someone will drop off a massive stack of material that has no purpose in being on the bookcase.
Those stacks are often composed of one of the following:
I've lost count of how many times I've had to lug twenty pounds of back issues of a single magazine title to our trash room. There is something in particular about the readership of these two magazine titles - they seem unable to just toss them in the recycling bin. It's always these two titles that are donated en masse.
I am here to tell you, as a former preservation librarian, that it is okay to recycle these items. Really! I mean it!
In my day job as an academic librarian, we often get calls asking if we take donations of these items. We don't. We don't want them. No library wants them. One of my former library school professors worked at National Geographic. They got calls regularly where people wanted to donate an entire archive of issues of their own magazine. Trust me when I say, they already have plenty of copies.
When unsolicited donations of these materials show up, it actually costs a library money to weed through and dispose of them. Donations are not free. It takes not only staff time and work space but also funds to recycle or trash large amounts of material. Even great items are not cost-free. Material must be sorted to see if it's friend sale worthy or, rarely, worth adding to the collection. If an item is to be added to a library's shelves, it has to be cataloged, barcoded, labeled, and, finally, placed in the stacks.
As a fellow book lover and reader, I understand the fear when it comes to tossing out books. We attach emotions to these items in our memories of reading them. We want to share those memories with others. We don't want to dispose of them like regular garbage. It's just so hard to do.
But, as a librarian, I'm here to tell you that it's okay. It's okay to throw away damaged, wet, or moldy books. It's okay to recycle old paperbacks, magazines, and outdated manuals.
Really. I promise.
The librarians will thank you.
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