Tuesday, April 15, 2008

UNESCO Pulps Nearly 100,000 Books

The Washington Post reports that UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, pulped nearly 100,000 of its own works as a cost and space saving measure (article available via the New York Sun):

According to the report, the destruction occurred in 2004 and 2005, when UNESCO's overflowing book storage warehouses in Paris were relocated to Brussels. rather than pay to move 94,500 books, auditors reported, UNESCO officials ordered them destroyed. The books were turned to pulp for recycling, the audit says. The director of UNESCO's Bureau of Public information and chief of the publishing division, Nino Munoz Gomez, said that at least half of the destroyed volumes were outdated and contained obsolete statistical data.

The audit notes that some publications were out of date but says others "on historical or purely literary themes were not at all affected by obsolescence." These included poetry anthologies and stories from all lands in translation. It says a "solution other than destruction" should have been considered, "such as free distribution to libraries."

Several irate African and Latin American ambassadors said libraries and schools in their impoverished countries would have been eager to receive comprehensive history books

(Emphasis added-DD)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could UNESCO have been operating under similar rules that many public and academic libraries are forced to follow? In those cases materials purchased with city, county or state funds cannot be sold or even given away. The books must be destroyed and/or dumped in the dumpster. How are UNESCO's actions any different?

8:23 AM  
Blogger professor ed said...

Anonymous: what you say regarding the handling of materials purchased with city...is certainly true. However there are ways to circumvent this. For example books are put outside the building's back door, or even in a dumpster, then patrons are told where these items have been placed. Similiarly UNESCO could, I am sure, have found some alternative method.

11:43 AM  

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