Residents upset Alameda County library throws out thousands of books

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ByAlan Wang KGO logo
Monday, February 23, 2015
Residents upset Alameda County library throws out thousands of books
East Bay residents attended expressed their outrage after learning the Fremont library threw away 100,000 books.

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- An East Bay library defended its decision to throw away 100,000 books in the trash. Angry residents showed up at a special meeting Monday night to express their outrage over this incident.

A biography on Willie Mays was one of the books pulled out of a library dumpster. The book is only four years old.

The Alameda County library director says they just want newer, updated books. But residents at the meeting argued that older books offer historical value and depth for research.

"I'm the witness who found five full bins of books that were discarded," Fremont resident Cara Elness said.

The Alameda County Public Library director says about 172,000 books were discarded over the past two years. She says they were forced to make shelf space after spending about $3 million on new books.

"Some things have to go. They're outdated, they're worn out, a dog chewed them up, they have coffee stains," Alameda County Library director Carmen Martinez said.

But angry residents, at the special library advisory commission meeting complained the weeding was too extreme. They say they uncovered thousands of discarded books that were less than five years old.

"This is a wonderful biography of Willie Mays that was brought into the library in 2010. This is our collective history," Berkeley resident Dorothea Dorenz said.

Residents asked why those books that had to be purged weren't donated to non-profits or other countries.

"Why the county can't work with the city school districts, even giving books away, I just don't understand that," Fremont resident Iris Clay said.

A moratorium has been placed on throwing away any more books and the commission is now reviewing its policy. Meanwhile, the director says they are now actively looking for more people and organizations who want the books.