Dordt College News

Book culling benefits literacy programs

May 10, 2009

When the John and Louise Hulst Library staff installed moving bookshelves this summer, they faced a quandary: what to do with a surplus of outdated and unused books.

“We had to physically move each book in the library to install the shelves,” said Jennifer Breems, reference and services librarian at the Hulst Library. “So, we decided to start getting rid of books that were outdated.”

The library staff set aside nearly 15,000 books and records that had not been checked out in the last ten years. 

“It was mainly a space issue,” said Breems. “We’re not a research university. We’re concerned with helping better our Dordt curriculum, and this was a good opportunity for that.” Library staff began putting outdated books into the dumpster, until the Justice Matters Club decided that there must be a better way of disposing of the old literature. At first, they salvaged the books and worked to recycle them.

“They cut the bindings off and recycled the pages for a while,” said Breems. But after some further checking, the library staff came across Better World Books, a global bookstore that takes unwanted books and sells them to support literacy programs in third-world countries. 

“We saw a review of [Better World Books] in a magazine, and saw that they would ship the books for us,” said Breems.  “We also appreciated their literacy efforts.”

The organization offered a good solution for getting rid of the book surplus, but it did mean that one library tradition had to fall by the wayside: the library’s fifty-cent book sale.

“Better World Books doesn’t want the books that we donate to them to be picked over,” said Breems. “Some students and faculty were sad to see the sale go, and we were too.”

She noted that the organization is considering holding an on-campus book sale in April or May. Dordt has already donated 3,000 volumes to Better World Books, and Breems encourages people to purchase books through that organization.  

Breems is pleased that the culling allows the library’s collection to better fit the needs of the Dordt educational community.

“Now we’re better able to take donations to make our library even better,” said Breems.


Media Access: Download Word Version