"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

February 04, 2008

City's Solid Waste Speaks About 'Got Books' At The DPW Transfer Station

On January 19th, bastille posted on the MassLive Northampton Forum, 'What's up at the Hamp transfer station?'

dropped off some books in the free shed today and one of the workers immediately took them and threw them in a big metal box where no one else can get them. Somebody said they get shipped off to Boston for sale.
This set in motion a series of threads, with people commenting and asking questions about the Got Books box which has been placed at the transfer station to collect books when the book shed gets too full. According to an email I received from Karen Boquillon, the city's Solid Waste Coordinator, when the book shed gets full, books get cleaned out and put into the Got Books box, keeping them out of the landfill, and making room for new books to to be left in the book shed. From Got Books' webpage,
Got Books is a for-profit used book seller and fundraiser whose primary mission is to find good homes for the unwanted books people no longer know what to do with or have a use for. Got Books is dedicated to book reuse and to keeping books out of the trash and out of landfills.
On Jan. 29, Northamptonist sent an email to Karen Boquillon, that said in part,
...I am reading claims made on MassLive that the books being brought to the recycling center are now being sold or given to a company in Boston? Is this true? As well, I do recall some change being implemented at the recycling yard regarding the leaving of books. Could you fill me in on what changes were made, (if any) and why?
Karen responded,
I have been following the discussion on MassLive about the book shed, and most of it is untrue. The book shed is still in place...the Got Books container has not replaced it. The only difference is that the book shed volunteers can no longer dump the books in the trash compactor when they clean out the shed.

I have investigated the allegations that City employees are cleaning out the book shed and throwing books into the Got Books container, and I cannot find any evidence that this is happening...
You can read her response in full here. She offered answers in that email that raised a couple of questions for me, and I sent a follow up.

"What does "through-put capacity" mean? When did Got Books get there? And am I correct in my understanding of your email that books that end up in Got Books mean those are books that don't potentially end up in the landfill?"

Karen responded,
Through-put capacity just refers to the fact that this book shed is very small...the flow of books through it depends on cleaning out the books that no one wants on a regular basis. In other words, the "shelf life" of the books has to be fairly short to free up space for the new books that arrive every day.
As before, you can read her full response to all my questions, informative and detailed, by following the link here.

There were many comments made on the forum on this issue, with people asking questions and wondering what the story was. One of the most passionate comments was left by someone who seems to be an employee of the DPW, who responded after quite a few statements were made disparaging DPW workers. (ed.:emphasis mine)
Where is my right to freedom of speech in this forum i guess in noho it dosent exsist. you people are always cutting the dpw apart because you dont have a clue about what is going on. Next time when you turn your water on or flush your toilet or the roads are not plowed dont call us an bitch fix it yourself if you think you are so smart. We do the best that we can with what you give us. All the people at the dpw are hard working and do the best they can in hard times. Twenty years ago ther were 75 people in the streets department alone now there are only 12. So please cut us some slack we are proud our jobs and only whant to do our best.
You can follow all the threads from Mass Live below:
What's up at the Hamp transfer station? (01.19.08)
Donate your books to the local library (01.28.08)
Where is post 4738 (01.29.08)
Anybody know how much money the city gets from the new Got Books canister? (02.02.08)

LABELS: citizen journalism, dpw, recycling,