School libraries in Racine, WI raided by untrained city workers, thousands of books discarded


Never read books from the previous century. There might be notions that don’t mesh with our new enlightened thinking.


Mmm – mixed feelings here, I have a background in library science, and I clearly remember a lot of redundant books in my high school’s library (computer science books from the 1970s, are they relevant in the early 2000s?). Clearly, these titles should have been tossed and new ones bought, but I doubt there was money.

Some things don’t change. Computer science concepts well known in the 1970’s aren’t stale. For example, there’s very little outdated material in “The Art of Computer Programming” (Knuth).

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That depends entirely on the book. If it was really “computer science”, i.e. what we over here call “Informatik”, the basics of back then are nearly the same as they are today. And I daresay that a book on 6502 programming is still more relevant than an introductory book about Excel or HTML 2.0.

Hell, The Art of Computer Programming is from the late 60s/early 70s.

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I disagree that it’s clear. A great deal of those books may contain the building blocks of modern computer science. Concepts we take for granted now, and are now obfuscated by convenient code libraries which do all the hard work for you were concepts you had to thoroughly understand and be responsible for as a programmer back then. Those books contain a great deal of know-how that kids graduating these days may never get exposed to.


Are these libraries so overflowing with new aquisitions becuase of the radically increased library budget that they just needed to clear some shelf space as soon as possible? That must be it.


The next step is to restrict purchases to books on the NYT best seller’s list.


I wish, ejeffrey. I work in the district in one of the high schools. It is sick to see what has happened.

Here is my coworker addressing the school board on this issue.


I agree that books on obsolete subjects can still be relevant – but these are best kept in a research library, not a school library.


Latest edition – 2011

This was probably one of those highly problematic Y2K bugs.


New “books” will be supplied by generous corporate citizens. I hear that BP has a wonderful guide to environmental stewardship.


“untrained”? What the heck were they doing in elementary/grade school and in high school?

/I know, they were showing up just for the cafeteria food. Yep…

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Well the personal favorite from my junior high library was which was well outdated by the mid 70s. But weeding does need to be done in school libraries. But actual judgment needs to be used, not just "pitch it if it is before 2000.


I have that set of books on my shelf here. I don’t know anybody who has ever managed to read them through. Even I only use them as reference works.

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When I was a child, I was spoiled because my grandmother kept all the books she’d had for her own children. In the 70s got to read first edition Oz books, classic fairytales from Hans Christian Anderson with beautiful illustrations, The Story of Ferdinand, A Cricket in Times Square, and others. (I also spent time with the Physicians’ Desk Reference.)

To say that books “get old” is really a shame. While it’s true some information may become outdated, and need to be replaced to be kept up - for example, we just recently found out how monitor lizards hunt, and so older books will contain wrong information - it’s important that libraries remain as full and as varied as possible!

(The edit was me just noticing a typo!)


don’t know anybody who has ever managed to read them

I don’t expect anyone but Knuth has. But my point stands; old is not the same as archaic or redundant. This is true of popular titles in elementary schools as well as arcane reference texts. Maybe Flatland is a better example, as it contains no modern geometry.


Flatland is a good example, but maybe modern isn’t the right word. Are there ancient or medieval discussions of different-dimensional space?

Abbot is a great example! I tried to make my kids read Flatland and they rolled their eyes and said “Dad, we already had to read that in 4th grade math class”. They liked it, too.

Uhm, probably Euclid, and maybe Pausanius, before the birth of the white christ. Medieval, um, probably only in Italian or Latin. Flatland is Victorian so it’s still very readable today. Much more so than Knuth or Wolfram.