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Fairfax Co. libraries tossed thousands of books in the trash

Friday - 9/6/2013, 8:29pm  ET

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These are some of the books and audio discs that Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth pulled from a dumpster in Chantilly. She says the books were piled as high as her shoulders. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

Not judging a book by its cover

WTOP's Andrew Mollenbeck reports

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FAIRFAX, Va. - Call it a storybook ending - just not the good kind.

Thousands of Fairfax County library books have been tossed in a big dumpster. Some of them show their wear, but others appear nearly unopened.

"This doesn't really happen in Fairfax County," Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth says. "There must be a misunderstanding, some exaggeration."

A group of librarians told her as many as 100,000 books were being tossed from the county's libraries.

Smyth wanted to check it out, so she went to the Chantilly Regional Library, the site of the technical operations center, where the dumpster was.

"I went two times," she says. "On Tuesday when I was there, there were a lot of books in the dumpsters. These are very big recycling bins that the trucks come and pick up."

When she returned Thursday, the books were piled shoulder high.

She grabbed some books within her reach.

"It runs the whole gamut of books, and here we are, trying to figure out why we have some perfectly reusable books put in a recycling bin," she says.

The Fairfax Times first reported on the dumpster load of discarded books and that it was the county's policy to toss those deemed to be in poor condition or containing outdated information.

But Smyth collected books, guides and audio discs as evidence that some of what was being tossed was actually in great condition.

She took that message to David Molchany, deputy county executive, who oversees the libraries.

A decision was quick. The library will stop tossing out more books for now, and lawmakers will work to figure out a new policy on discarding books.

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