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Members of the Racine Education Association are calling on the Racine Unified School District to stop “weeding” school library books out of school libraries by the “tens of thousands,” including the Bible, Koran, and The Iliad & The Odyssey of Homer.

The Racine Unified School District is purging “tens of thousands of books” copyrighted prior to the year 2000, according to a statement by the REA. But Racine Unified School District spokesperson Stacy Tapp said the district works with school staff members each summer to refresh the libraries.

“We provide a list of books to the library media specialist to consider pulling from the shelves because they are outdated, in very poor condition, don’t align with curriculum or have not been checked out in many years,” Tapp said. “There are additional factors that are considered as well. The school libraries have funds each year to replace old items.”

If possible, the school district does donate the books, Tapp said.

But Aaron Eick, vice president of the REA and teacher at Horlick High School, said the union believes the number of books is “not normal” and in some cases the school librarians were not involved in the process. At Mitchell Middle School the librarian helped weed out about 2,000 books, but then the librarian got a removal list of 8,000 more books to take off the shelves. Among the books being pulled are ones written by local authors David Kherdian and Kevin Henkes; books on the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Bible, the Koran, and Beowulf.

Shel Silverstien poetry and many Dr. Seuss books are expected to be removed from some elementary schools.

At Case High School, 2,505 books were removed, including: Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Holy Bible, Pable Picasso: A Modern Master, and The Iliad & The Odyssey of Homer. “The REA/REAA presence at the Board of Education meeting comes after repeated efforts by school librarians and by the union’s leaders to get RUSD to explain why it has ordered the purge and why it refuses—thus far—to halt the weeding until alternatives can be developed by the school librarians,” according to a statement released by the union,” according to the union. Eick said the librarians are at a loss on how the books will be replaced. “There is not nearly enough money to buy enough books to replace what has been lost,” Eick said. Eick said the union is demanding that:

  1. RUSD should stop the “weeding” of our school libraries and reverse damage done to library collections.
  2. RUSD should implement an appropriate policy with certified librarians taking the lead.
  3. RUSD needs to provide our children with access to a wide variety of quality literature and information.
  4. REA expects the Board to exercise responsible stewardship of the community’s educational resources.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

28 replies on “Thousands Of Books Removed From Racine Unified Schools”

  1. Is the point to reduce shelf space to make room for computer labs or some such? Are some of those books duplicates, e.g., are there several copies that differ only by front matter (such as versions of novels that have different forewords)? And will access to eBooks be provided to make up for the loss of physical books?

  2. Another mis-guided policy by school administrators. Teachers are right to ask for the policy to be removed. Since when can a library have too many books for students to read.

  3. The only people who should be selecting books for removal from a library’s collection are the librarians themselves. If this didn’t happen, then the person who ordered the book purge should lose his or her job. It’s inexcusable. A community should not stand for such an act.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if REA/REAA wasn’t behind this. But then again, this district is so messed up. They will just ask for more money

  5. I think it is a travesty that any book that is still readable is removed. We all paid for those books with our taxes. At least donate them to a place that can make use of them.

  6. Another thing… instead of shipping these mounds of books off to Africa, why don’t they sell them to Racine residents? Use the money from old books to buy new ones while still investing in Racine’s literacy intiatives – expanding home libraries. If not for rummage sales, I’m sure many low-income parents don’t have the means to buy new books for their kids. Just one of many simple solutions!

  7. Those books look like they’re in pretty good shape to me… Just saying. From what I’ve been told, the amount of books and the lack of information about which books and where they’re going is unsettling. The year 2000 is ridiculous for a copyright cut off date. I’ve learned a lot of things through books dating back to 1970 while doing projects and papers in college. How do they plan to replace these? A tablet library? Pff – that’s totally affordable. Oh and remember that writing style called cursive? The style that has been proven to help kids remember spelling more than typing on a computer. Books are well on their way to extinction too.. I can’t help to think of the movie “The Book of Eli,” which yes, is a little dramatic, but come on!

  8. It seems that Nazi Germany is repeating itself, funny how the Koch Brothers with their ALEC is pushing for private schools and now the book banishing is started, when will the burnings start! People better wake up before it is far to late!

    1. Did the Huff Post tell you that, connlyfox54? Nazi Germany maybe repeating itself, but it has nothing to do with the Koch brothers. Notice the books removed. Sounds a lot more like a liberal agenda. Not all liberals would think this is a good idea, I know. But this is happening in libraries all over the country.

      Pick up the used books at yard sales, thrift stores, and book sales when you see them. There are people in this country who would re-write history, so it’s up to the rest of us to tell our children the truth.

  9. This is a ridiculously terrible article… As someone who has been an elementary school librarian, there are so many questions left hanging.

    1) Are they planning on replacing those books? Maybe they got a grant? A donation?
    2) Popular books that are 14+ years old and in an elementary school are probably in terrible condition and should probably be weeded. For example, 14+ year old Dr suess books have probably been in the hands of hundreds of children. Gross. Throw them out, get some new ones.
    3) There are some mandates that require that the average age of the books in a library be less than ___ years old. Maybe they are trying to be compliant?
    4) 2k-8k books sounds like a lot… Unless there are 100k books. Then it’s pretty reasonable. How many books are there in total?
    5) It’s the middle of summer, that’s when most books get weeded to get ready for the new books for the new year.
    6) Everytime someone throws a book away, its not a bad thing. Over 150K books get published every year. Where are you gonna put those if you don’t shift your collection?
    7) Are these duplicates? Do they have 57 copies of Anne of Green Gables because no grandma has ever allowed them to throw that one out and are constantly bringing new copies in because “this book is sooo precious.” (this was my problem in my elementary school)
    8) and finally, as an elementary school librarian, pictures of empty shelves and piles of boxes in the middle of summer is pretty meaningless. There are literally dozens of possible reasons for that.

    1. They did do this and this is happening across the country. Administrators are looking at school libraries as if they are dead space in a school and what a better way to fix libraries than to throw away books. This has happened to several libraries near me. What happens is that the library collection is culled – that is putting it nicely – because architects are selling visions of opened up space for tables and chairs. The irony is that the choices are NOT based on collection development but by new shelving designs for “for profit” companies. After the books go, the librarian usually follows and the learning commons space is manner by teachers on a duty period. What is left of the collection is a very shoddy lending library of sorts. Librarians need to take a stand against this and it needs to happen before all school libraries are a thing of the past. You can have the tech and should have the tech but the tech and print need to co-exists until all information is transferred to electronic format in a cost effective manner.

      1. I think it’s a big mistake to transfer everything in print over to electronic format, cost effective or not. There are still people who read books and do not have Kindles, iPads, computers, laptops, smart phones, etc. I know several households with children who do not own a cell phone or computer, let alone e-book readers, laptops, etc. Their children read books. Lots of people, myself included, still read books despite technology. There should always be hard copies available. Putting everything on electronic media and doing away with printed copies would put us one disaster, one EMP away from the irretrievable loss of a vast wealth of knowledge. Electronic files can be regenerated if printed copies exist, even if those copies have been printed from an electronic file. They cannot be regenerated if printed copies are destroyed and that medium abandoned.

    2. Does anyone here actually believe that librarians or schools are actively trying to prevent people from reading? Ridiculous. Props to the librarian who wrote this excellent comment to this very poorly written article. I previously worked as a district Director of Library Media, and weeding has always been necessary because of all of the reasons above.

      Here are some resources that everyone (particularly the author of this article) might want to take a look at for some background information on common protocols surrounding this task: http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet15

      1. You either have not been paying any attention to the plight of school libraries or you have your head in the sand. The librarians at this district went to the school board before and the union finally was involved. The librarians are not the ones who are advocating tossing 8,000 books from one of the libraries. This is coming from their central administrative offices. Read other articles about this.

    3. Since you obviously have never worked for Racine School District, you should probably keep your “ridiculous” comments to yourself. If the librarians in the district are worried and have made the effort to contact the union over it, then there probably is a valid concern.

    4. Copyright before 2000 doesn’t mean the physical book is 14 years old. It could be a year-old copy of Pride and Prejudice or Slaughterhouse Five or A Farewell to Arms or Catcher in the Rye or Brave New World or, you know, Fahrenheit 451.

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