HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens of unwanted books from North Holland Elementary School now have new homes, thanks to an effort by the community to take a stack of books from the recycling bin.
Jay, a Hamilton resident, takes his kids to the playground at the school once a week. On Saturday afternoon, he came across a surprise: dozens of books discarded in a large bin.
“It kind of takes your breath away for a second,” Jay told News 8 on Sunday. “As if, ‘Is this a joke?’ You see the dumpster stacked to the brim with great-condition books. It’s disheartening. It really is.”
Ever since he was a boy, books have meant the world to Jay.
“Books are the coolest thing,” Jay said. “It can literally take you anywhere. It can completely change your mood that you’re currently in now.”
That’s why he couldn’t believe an elementary school was getting rid of dozens of books. He quickly posted pictures on Facebook and received a strong response.
“You knew that if I were to post something online, some good would come out of it,” he said. “And that’s exactly what happened. It’s the happy ending to the story.”
“There were some people that stepped up and were like, ‘Hey, tell me more about this, where is the dumpster located?’” he added.
Jay said that within an hour, people showed up at the school and took all the books out of the bin. They lined the books up against the fence near the playground.
“They were being organized almost by reading level at that point,” Jay said. “So that way anybody who was coming in here to take books, they could easily identify which books would be appropriate for their aged children.”
A spokesperson for West Ottawa Public Schools said the books were being recycled in the Paper Gator bin. As they update their library, they went through old books, evaluating their condition and how often they are used.
The spokesperson told News 8 the discarded books had not been checked out in several years. Additionally, they had been offered to teachers for their classroom libraries before being put in the Paper Gator.
“We are currently in the process of revitalizing and updating our library spaces as a part of our district Strategic Plan. In order to do so, a weeding process takes place. This weeding process includes assessing the condition of the book as well as its circulation rate. Due to the extended length of time since the last weeding, there were several books that needed to be weeded from this library that had not been checked out in the last 10 yrs. As a part of this weeding process these weeded books were first given to teachers for classroom libraries and students, and the last remaining books were moved to the Paper Gator, and although it may resemble a trash dumpster, it is actually a receptacle that is used by schools for recycling paper products and generates money that goes back into our schools.”West Ottawa Public Schools
The books were quite popular on Saturday. Marisela Garcia, whose child attends the elementary school, saw Jay’s post and wanted to pick them up for her daughter.
“I stopped everything I was doing just to make sure that I was seeing everything correctly,” Garcia said. “I had to go show my husband, and he was just like, ‘Should we go now?’”
Within hours of Jay’s post, all the books had new homes.
“They were able to donate them to free libraries, to their families, to teachers in the area that could use them as resources in their classroom,” Jay said. “It was fantastic.”
Garcia ended up taking her daughter to the school on Sunday to see if any books were left. They were all gone.
“I am not surprised,” Garcia said. “I’m just glad that they made their way to a good home. And they’re actually going to be used and not recycled.”
It’s a new chapter for dozens of books.
“I think what happened was truly remarkable,” Jay said.