Saturday, May 2, 2009
Donations to school libraries - a heavy price
Our library accepts donations - the collection management policy states that donations will be accepted in line with the selection policy - good condition, current, curriculum based, aged relevent, non biased and basically suitable for a school library. In most cases the donations we receive are excellent and have been added to the collection.
Late this week the assistants found a number of bags of books left outside a door that is not used very much. We are not sure how long they had been there - up to three days was the guess.
I like to deal with donations pretty swiftly and am quite ruthless with the decisions on what to include in our collection. Out of the multiple bags that were left (about 40 books in all) we will keep about 7 as the rest did not meet our guidelines. As I was sifting through this pile of 'donations' I wondered aloud why people would think that what they were donating was going to be even remotely interesting and useful to an international school library - most of the items were over 15 years old, filthy, moldy, brown and tatty looking. The rest were just irrelevent.
Why can't people just throw their own rubbish out? Why are books so revered that they cannot be thrown out when they pass their use by date? When I cull a collection people look at me in horror when I destroy most of the books we weed. Books are not items with a long shelf life. I will not donate my discards to other countries or charities without seriously considering their condition, relevance and age before letting them go. Having been on the receiving end of so much rubbish I am very conscious of the time and effort it takes to wade through well meaning donations.
Over this past year I now have 5 large boxes full of books that we cannot use - by giving us their 'donations' people have given us the added burden of disposing responsibly those items that we reject. I like the idea of altered books and this may be an excellent use for these books for a book week activity for the secondary students, otherwise they will be thrown out as they should have been in the first place.
Donations can be double edged swords.