Letter: Richland County Library Shredding Classics

“WHO WILL SAVE OUR LIBRARY?” Dear Editor: The Richland County Public Library has been shredding vast numbers of books and other county-owned materials, materials that are often brand-new.  This abuse and misuse of public funds has accelerated recently.  During a recent visit to the Main Library, aisle after aisle showed…


Dear Editor: The Richland County Public Library has been shredding vast numbers of books and other county-owned materials, materials that are often brand-new.  This abuse and misuse of public funds has accelerated recently.  During a recent visit to the Main Library, aisle after aisle showed empty shelves, with volunteer workers quickly removing items for shredding.  We are told that liquidation is set from February 16, 2015, in only a few days, when the library will be closed to the public.

The most recent “Letter from the Director” in the Friends of the Library magazine states that the Library Director, Melanie Huggins, weeds with “soulless detachment.”  She has weeded the library with the same “soulless detachment,” disposing of irreplaceable public property without compunction or the barest hesitation.  She has no sense of duty or of stewardship.  When asked, the Library tells the public that the Director is “cultivating” the collection, yet week after week, Shred-A-Way collects thousands upon thousands of books to be shredded at the public’s expense.  If taxpayers try to contact the Director or her executive staff, they cannot be found because they are rarely at work.  Huggins’ actions represent government waste and are an abuse of the public’s trust.

When citizens search for favorite books that were once on the shelf, they discover that they have been deleted.  Classics, cookbooks, crafts, fiction–all manner of new and irreplaceable books have gone to the shredder.  Shelves are being emptied.  At the same time, the Library Friends group sends out begging letters requesting more funds because of unchecked spending on Huggins’ vanity projects.  Citizens who cannot use electronic materials are deprived of the “access” that Library leaders promise with the new “Access Freely” brand, another huge waste of money.  Taxpayers are outraged at this pattern of reckless spending.  These so-called leaders of the library shamefully took the Public and the County out of the Library.  It is past time to put them back in.

This library “CEO” puts the library in the red at a time when she was given $60 million in bond money, which, to date, has gone unaccounted for.  Citizens have yet to see any building plans for the renovations they are paying for.  Library board meetings and governance are far from open.  The current leadership of the library has a history of financial failure and misuse of funds. It’s time to stop their financial waste and fraud and ensure fiduciary responsibility.  Where is the oversight?  The Library Board has so far failed to exercise oversight.  The next board meeting is February 9.  Who will save our library?

Joe Richland
Columbia, S.C.



Thanks for your letter, Joe.  Please keep us in the loop on what happens at the meeting on February 9.  This website has consistently opposed government funding for libraries – and argued that “spending tax dollars to improve them is a total waste of money.”

Wanna sound off? Send your letter to the editor HERE …


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? February 7, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Who cares? The downtown library is nothing more than an ad hoc homeless shelter anyway.

Squishy123 February 7, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Were any of the books valuable or 16th edition paperbacks? The homeless probably just ripped pages out them either way to use as toilet paper or to pad their shoes.

Point of Order February 8, 2015 at 12:12 am

I’m a bit surprised the library is shredding the books instead of the usual gov’t sponsored method of burning them.

Do they not hold history sacred?

Oh The Irony February 8, 2015 at 9:36 am

“What do you mean you don’t have any copies of Fahrenheit 451?”

BrigidBernadette February 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Who cares? You obviously don’t pay property taxes. Let’s just let all of our public institutions be run into the red after being given millions, who cares?

BrigidBernadette February 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Then rip the Library sign down, close it, and give the building to Oliver Gospel. You are one dumb mofo.

Bible Thumper February 7, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Joe, Melanie Huggins may have a feminist and racial diversity agenda as well. Classics are usually written by dead white men. Whether they were straight or gay is speculation, but the point of view was straight. Huckleberry Finn, off to the shredder. In comes My Two Mommies.

Manray9 February 7, 2015 at 5:19 pm

So now there is a secret conspiracy of librarians pushing the dreaded “…feminist and racial diversity agenda?” Where did you find out about this infamous cabal? Glenn Beck? Did you buy some gold too?

Bible Thumper February 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Nothing secret about it. No conspiracy. They have written scholarly papers and made policy statements concerning it.

I don’t have time to explain all I have read on this topic, but once you read the linked document and check out the book abstracted, we could then have an intelligent discussion. I look forward to it.

BrigidBernadette February 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Don’t even bother BT, the leftist response to anything they are ignorant about is to throw out Glenn Beck, Fox, or some other ridiculous irrelevant association to cover for their willful stupidity. Any new idea, any new information or critique, is dismissed in this manner. That is why they never change and grow, they block out anything unfamiliar to them and then denigrate it by making non-sequiturs. Meanwhile, normal people pursue their quest for more info and use critical thinking to be as informed and educated as possible, leaving them in the dust where they belong, rolling around in their own anti-intellectual feces, gibbering about Glenn Beck…Bush lied…it’s not fair…I don’t wanna pay my bills…gimme gimme…new stuff is too hard…let me sleep ten more minutes mom…I’ll look for a job tomorrow…I dunno…I dunno…Rush Limbaugh…

BrigidBernadette February 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

The references for the abstract are terrific. Thank you BT, that should keep me busy for quite a while.

BrigidBernadette February 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm

There is so much written on the topic of the subversion of libraries from their core mission, being led by the American Library Association, and you are uninformed. They are now vehicles for social justice warriors to advance their agendas. This goes all the way back to libraries refusing to cooperate with law enforcement after 9/11, they have an entire set of instructions for libraries to not cooperate with LE even with subpoenas. If someone is using public computers to search for bomb making instructions or how to kill someone and not get caught, the ALA will fight tooth and nail to obstruct LE from investigating.

Native Ink February 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

You’re just used to the intuitive algorithms of Google. Library OPAC’s (Online Public Access Catalogs) don’t rank results from keyword searches very well.

If you had searched for the relevant terms in the correct search fields, “Huckleberry Finn” in the title field and “Twain, Mark” in the author field, you would have easily found the result you needed and not pages of results you didn’t need.

Bible Thumper February 7, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Well of course, but it would be behind sanitized versions. I’m on a smart phone and I just have one search box. It won’t allow searches with quotes so I searched Huckleberry Finn no quotes. The fist choice was “Interpretations of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” next a Mic Rooney DVD. It wasn’t on the fist page. I tried Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain and had the same problem. I don’t believe you tried.

Kelly Nelson February 11, 2015 at 3:06 am

With all of your rebel rousing regarding “liberals”, and alike, it’s a bit perplexing that you would be touting Mark Twain books as his political leanings are contrary to yours.

Bible Thumper February 11, 2015 at 8:56 am

Huck was a doubter. He pointed out hypocrisy. Any Christian who says he doesn’t have doubts is a liar and a jackass. People use religion to justify themselves instead of becoming a more just person. Besides, I think we all should read things that challenge ones beliefs.

Bible Thumper February 8, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Too often we argue our positions and never test them. So I decided to test your theory about the Google algorithm.
1. In plain Google I searched, Mark Twain.
Results: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” did not appear near the top.
2. I searched, Mark Twain books.
Results: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” appeared first in a banner. I was able to click on the banner and get links to the book.
3. I now go to the Richland County Library website and search, Mark Twain books.
Results: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” book was buried on page 3, the 24th selection.

The highest I could ever get it on the Richland County Library website search was forth by searching exactly, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Native Ink February 8, 2015 at 9:52 pm

I just did the same search (“Mark Twain books”) and got Huck Finn as my first result in the banner at the top. YMMV.

Bible Thumper February 8, 2015 at 10:10 pm

I don’t know what is going on, but can’t get any results now. Every other time it was at least 3rd page except, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, when it was forth on the first page. Always, “Interpretations of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and the Mickey Rooney DVD came before. How old was Mickey when he played Huck? 40 maybe.

FastEddy23 February 8, 2015 at 4:46 pm

FYI Huckleberry Finn is also in the top ten of the best selling books, ever. Google the list …

Bible Thumper February 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Good thinking. See my second response to Native Ink.

Pat February 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm

At the Richland County Library website, there are 436 search results for the name “Mark Twain”. Sort the 436 by “Popularity” and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is #10.

Bible Thumper February 10, 2015 at 9:00 pm

My search was by smart phone. It doesn’t allow sorts. Make sure it was the actual “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and not “Interpretations of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or a DVD.

FastEddy23 February 11, 2015 at 12:02 pm

A “search” that does not allow sorts would be as useless as glitter balls on a Christmas tree.

Bible Thumper February 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Not if how they were originally sorted advance an agenda.

FastEddy23 February 11, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Google search and sort routines do usually take into account date v. hits v. “quality” v. several other criteria. So now, try to change to search result size (to eliminate the fluff and chaff) on a “smart” phone … Too bad.

This is the same problem with email on a “smart” phone: no complete menu of control choices available. Messaging is OK, email, Not!

GrandTango February 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Didn’t Hitler do the same thing, of sorts?

What have I been telling you about out-of-control, radical liberalism…

Burning Korans February 8, 2015 at 9:38 am

As if the kooky right hasn’t gone to a good book-burning before, huh?

GrandTango February 8, 2015 at 12:45 pm

So you’re admitting you burn books, like Hitler, and if in your delusion, you can accuse someone you HATE…it’s OK.

Kelly Nelson February 11, 2015 at 3:13 am

Hitler was anti-contemporary art (this includes books). His preference was traditional ‘Germanic arts’. Since when has ‘radical liberalism’ been rooted in tradition?

GrandTango February 11, 2015 at 4:43 am

Hitler hated Jewish produced literature and art. He hated his enemies with the same amount of zeal with which the modern-day Democrat hates its fellow Americans.

You blame the right (see Bush) for every ill affecting us, when in reality everything you touch fails, and the country was prosperous, with a robust economy, under Republican leadership.

You vilify us because you must feed your ravenous greed and maintain your stranglehold on power, despite the mess you have made of our country.

Kelly Nelson February 11, 2015 at 8:51 am

I’ll leave the finger pointing to you. You seem to have a knack for it.

GrandTango February 11, 2015 at 9:08 am

I have a knack for reality and truth…..Liberals fear that like Obama fears a document authenticator holding his “birth certificate.”

RogueElephant February 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm

You can bet anything having to do with white males, American exceptionalism, Christianity, patriotism or anything showing the South in a good light is headed for the shredder.

Big Mouth Philistines February 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Except for their sociopathy, white males–especially American white males–are pretty boring.

Sullivan February 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Then fine, if a female, don’t date or marry one. Because without a doubt, you’ll be doing them a favor by not doing do.

Moldering Tomes February 7, 2015 at 5:11 pm

I have heard MANY the Richland Library employee, from different branches, complain about how poorly the library is managed. And I never heard about this (which is too common at many libraries) but instead heard about poor, detached, basically functionless, and very top heavy management.

Someone definitely needs to look into it.

Yeah February 7, 2015 at 7:54 pm

How else will they make room for the new books? When was the last time you read a “classic”??

Moldering Tomes February 8, 2015 at 2:11 pm

There is plenty of room for old books and new. At worst you move the lesser checked books to denser, even remote, stacks where books can be retrieved by request (just like USC does). At worst you can give the books to the county or prison libraries or the Friends of the Library for public sale.

Moldering Tomes February 7, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Librarians don’t run libraries any more, bureaucrats do. It’s often hard to tell whether the faddist bureaucrats are better or worse than the do nothings.

Libraries are the devil February 7, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Good riddance! Maybe they can get rid of the homeless guys jerking off in the stacks next!

Squishy123 February 7, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Then where would GrandTango go to jerk off?

Flip's House February 8, 2015 at 9:39 am

Oh, I’m sure he has a place in mind.

Don't look at him! February 9, 2015 at 10:25 am

That’s what FITSnews is for. He’s the dirty ole bum in the corner jerking off via mental masturbation here.

Lobeco February 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Why not donate the books to other libraries in the corridor of shame counties – most of which are struggling to stay open?

FastEddy23 February 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm

… or to other library book sales.

You Are Stealing Our Money February 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Forensic audit needed —— Federal criminal investigation will follow.

Mark February 7, 2015 at 7:27 pm

We don’t do forensic audits in SC. We don’t do anything that will keep cost low or theft to a minimum.

Native Ink February 7, 2015 at 9:31 pm

I understand libraries have to weed books to eliminate out-of-date material in the non-fiction section, but I don’t understand why the fiction shelves are weeded and then look half-empty afterwards.

GreyMast February 8, 2015 at 2:57 pm

NAZIs will be NAZIs. Remember that the words “public” are synonymous with government control. Anytime you are content to allow a government agency to control a public asset, you waive all rights to that asset. A volunteer system of beneficial cooperation would harbor better results. Couple that with laws designed to punish government employees for conspiracy to commit fraud and vandalism and/ or wanton destruction of artifacts. That would be a great start to breaking state monopolies of public assets. I think this should carry the death penalty so we can start reducing another corporatist government farce known as excessive incarcerations !! But the only people willing to make these things happen are Libertarians. You can see why the mainstream hate and fear us.

9" February 7, 2015 at 10:04 pm

This is why Americans have become the dumbest people on Earth.They don’t read books.Most people who have a college degree,quit reading,afterwards.”The person who doesn’t read,is no better of than the person who can’t.”
BTW,What were your top ten favorite books of 2014? You can pick ten fiction and ten non-fiction.

Book worm or Tequila? February 8, 2015 at 2:57 pm

“What were your top ten favorite books of 2014?”

My #1 favorite book is “Selected commentaries of Smirks in the comment section of FITSnews”.

Happy n the stacks February 8, 2015 at 6:21 am

Modern libraries are little more than homeless baby sitter centers and sites for social experimentation like the taxpayer subsidized nursing-healthcare center operating at the Richland Library. Brick, mortar, and glass libraries such as the Richland County Library are dinosaurs.

nitrat February 9, 2015 at 8:04 am

I actually met a friend too poor to have a home ISP at a library in a small city near Columbia a week ago. He was there in a packed computer area with 30-40+ people, most of whom I imagine are also too poor for a home ISP, using and elderly learning to use the internet with library staff assistance.
The ground floor was full of families – white families, too – and their children for some program.
Maybe, the issue is the Richland County Library and the oversight it’s not getting from Richland County Council and not libraries in general.

IOP February 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Typical state government… libraries without books, an SCDOT without safe roads, and school districts that produce way too many illiterate kids… but hey, as long as our footballs teams are winning, the stands are packed, and the coaches and paid accordingly.

nitrat February 9, 2015 at 7:52 am

Typical RED STATE government…

BrigidBernadette February 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Everyone, please take out your property tax bill and look at what the library receives, and compare it what mental health services and even Midlands Tech, and you will be stunned. RCPL receives about TWELVE times what mental health gets. This is criminal, especially in light of the internet bringing a virtual library to our homes. The County has been bamboozled and we are paying for this woman’s folly. Let this see some daylight, and get her ass out of there if millions are not being used, she doesn’t bother to come to work, and they are running in the red!

There is some sort of agenda at play in what the catalogue posses and obtains. My husband can never get new fiction written by men. If it is genre like sci-fi, apparently there are no new male writers, only women.

RCPL is duplicating job search services that are rightfully being done by the Department of Employment and Workforce, mere blocks away down the hill. They are there to provide books and other associated media to the public, to the taxpayer, and not to run a day clinic, give flu shots, type up resumes, or anything that is not related directly to their mandate.

FastEddy23 February 8, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Here in Taxifornia local libraries have book sales. Cheap “classics” and the not quite so are as low as $5 bucks for a grocery bag full. A local library just finished their semi-annual sale, a six day event with a packed house of book worms every day, even the last day.

That library also has a used book store (room) that is open every day. There I have been able to complete my collection of classic hard cover additions of Patric O’Brian (“the greaist sea stories ever written …” – Both, NY Times And London Times.)

euwe max February 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Yes, but they use the shredded paper to make fire logs, sell them at walmart, and use the proceeds to buy blankets and Mad Dog for the homeless!

Bible Thumper February 8, 2015 at 7:45 pm

What do they need blankets for? That’s taxpayers’ money.

euwe max February 8, 2015 at 11:40 pm

Don’t worry, Republicans intercept the shipments and steal the blankets to sell on the black market in China to help offset campaign advertising costs.

ELCID February 9, 2015 at 11:32 am

This is an issue that needs to be brought before the Richland County and City of Columbia Councils: immediately! By the people who live there. they should immediately contact their local Representatives and ask that the Councils make this a number 1 Agenda item for the next Council Meetings.

The Columbia City Mayor and a Repr. From Richland County need to require an immediate Cease and Desist Order against the Library from any further actions until the full Councils have a chance to debate these undoable actions.

Remember what they said about World War 2.
“First they burned the books,
Then they burned the people.”

PaisleyJane February 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm

This article is incredibly under researched and gives an obscene amount of misinformation. The library does not weed books due to censorship or any “secret agenda” but rather on condition and accuracy of information. The reason the books are “missing” from the shelves is because the library is moving to a new system of organization of books based on the national BISAC structure and books are being moved to get relabeled and reorganized to make room for the renovations that will begin taking place this year using the money from the bond referendum. The library makes many purchasing decisions based on reviews from credible sources such as the American Library Association, The school Library Journal as well as processing customer requested book purchases. Please be informed and realize the library is an advancement for our community, a safe haven for those in need, and a beacon of light for our future.

Punxsutawney Phil February 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm

Please be informed yourself. This is no researched article. It is a submitted letter from an obviously upset employee or friend of employee. And I have read the libraries mission statement, but I must be misremembering where it stated that the library would be a “beacon of light for our future.” I thought it was a place where I could check out a book.

BrigidBernadette February 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm

“a safe haven for those in need” What the hell does that mean? A place of refuge or security, for whom and from what? More agenda driven nonsense that shows how far libraries have strayed from their core function of providing BOOKS. Not serving as a free clinic, a place to get taxes done, job counseling, or serving as a day shelter for the homeless. Good grief. Department of Employment and Workforce is down the street, THEY provide resources to help the unemployed find work. Across the street from the library is Oliver Gospel Mission, THEY provide shelter and safe haven for those in need. Mental health services are provided by Richland County–oh wait, maybe not, because the library gets an obscene amount of revenue while mental health gets very very little. More propaganda from the Dewey left, he should have stopped at inventing the decimal system and not meddled in social engineering that plagues us to this day. Don’t be surprised when there is a backlash at funding RCPL at their current levels. The old library on Sumter had old books as well, perhaps damaged, perhaps out of date. But they were stacked to the ceiling, and going there was a far superior experience. It put the library patron in touch with the past, with the obscure, the history of our society, it didn’t have the pretense of serving as a “beacon of light for the future.” What ever the hell that means. Right now all RCPL is doing is pissing people off. You all need to be taken down a peg.

Blue Nose February 10, 2015 at 9:16 pm

This is all absolutely true. Ms. Huggins is doing everything she can to squash this story. If you really want to know what is going on at the Richland County Public Library, do not ask the leadership. They are all liars. Talk to the staff anonymously. Anyone who gives their names will be fired. No one is safe from this leadership team. They are plundering the resources of the library, the county and its taxpayers. The waste, fraud and abuse that this group propagates is done in the open and without fear of retribution. Ask for a full accounting of all that has been destroyed. First, I doubt that you would get it, and second, if you did, I doubt that it would be truthful. Did I say that they are all liars? I believe that library spending should be frozen, except for employee wages and benefits, until a full investigation into waste, fraud and abuse can be conducted by an independent and competent authority. The library board of trustees cannot be considered either independent or competent. Honestly, they are complicit in the commission of these crimes. Perhaps the State Attorney General should take a look. Somebody knows where the money comes from and where it goes. Follow the money trail and you will find the criminals. What do you think?


Blue Nose

BrigidBernadette February 15, 2015 at 6:07 pm

They must’ve panicked about this letter and the comments–now doing some PR, saying the library hasn’t purged in TWENTY YEARS. FITS, please bump this story back up, I’d like to see some rebuttal.


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