Books aren’t burned in Kamloops, they’re buried.
On Tuesday, about 20,000 books were taken from Pat DiFrancesco’s At Second Glance used bookstore and dumped at the Owl Road landfill in Valleyview.
“It’s creepy. It’s just creepy,” DiFrancesco said when she looked at her now empty store on Victoria Street.
About a tenth of her total stock went to the dump, said DiFrancesco. But she had no other option because it would have cost twice as much to recycle the volumes as it did to dump them.
DiFrancesco has been selling off her stock at a discount since announcing she was closing shop in September. For the last week she’s been giving the books away.
But there were still boxes and boxes of books for Bud’s Bins to haul away on Tuesday — the last day At Second Glance was open to the public. Bud’s Bins owner Bud Walsh said he took about nine tonnes of books to the landfill.
Walsh approached Emterra Environmental about recycling options. He was told it would cost $120 a tonne to recycle the books, or $60 a tonne to dispose of them, he said.
The recycle fee includes packing and shipping the books to Vancouver, where they are taken apart by hand to avoid having glue and binding recycled with paper, said Walsh.
It cost DiFrancesco $600 to $800 to take the books to the landfill.
“As far as the customer goes, it’s not worth her while taking them to the recycler. It costs too much money,” said Walsh.
Unfortunately, DiFrancesco doesn’t have any options available to her. Peter Hughes, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s director of environmental services, said the province mandates that bound books be recycled separately from packaging and paper.
The TNRD doesn’t recycle books because of this, he said. If DiFrancesco doesn’t want to pay more for recycling, then a landfill is the only solution.
“The reality is, I think she’s stuck,” said Hughes.
Tom Friedman, a literary professor at Thompson Rivers University, believes DiFrancesco is a victim of the digital age and books just don’t have the value they once had. He said this is a sad reality.
At Second Glance was a valuable resource for TRU professors looking for rare volumes, he said. Now that resource is gone.
“I really feel sorry for Pat. She really put so much effort and energy into the establishment,” said Friedman.
Disposing of books is a last resort, said Marc Saunders, the TNRD’s director of libraries. When a library closes, staff offloads stock at book sales or with the John Howard or Elizabeth Fry societies.
The remaining books are usually ripped or mangled and not desired by anyone, said Saunders.
DiFrancesco exhausted every option during the last three months, including giving books away to school teachers, she said.
People were taking books until the bitter end. Jennifer Beaudoin, an At Second Glance customer for years, helped pack up the store on Tuesday and took the occasional volume for herself.
Had she know the remaining books were headed for a landfill, she’d have brought several suitcases to fill up and take home with her.
“It’s freaking sad,” said Beaudoin.