FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims A Minnesota Middle School Discarded Books Because They ‘Cannot Be Cleaned’

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 5,100 times purportedly shows all of the books from a Minnesota middle school thrown away in a recycling dumpster because they “cannot be cleaned.”

Verdict: False

The books were removed during a routine weeding process of outdated books from the collection, not because they couldn’t be sanitized. The school’s principal said the school attempted to donate as many as possible.

Fact Check:

The Facebook post features a photo of a recycling dumpster filled with dozens of books behind Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The books were allegedly thrown away by the middle school because there was no way to clean them, a concern likely linked to children returning to school during the coronavirus pandemic.

“All the books have been removed from the classrooms,” the post’s caption reads. “They claim that the books cannot be cleaned.” (RELATED: ‘Book Of Yeezus’ – Did Kanye West Publish A Bible That Replaces ‘God’ With His Name?)

Hundreds and hundreds of books regarding American history including Native Americans like Sitting Bull and Famous Sioux Chiefs, foreign nations far and wide, the Holocaust and even Mister Rogers, found in dumpster behind Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake, MN,” the post continues. “No sign of any fiction books, just non-fiction regarding history, cultures, wars, tyranny, communism, politics, etc. They are trying to erase history.”

However, the books were neither discarded due to COVID-19 concerns nor in an effort to “erase history.” Rather, the books were weeded out from the school’s collection to ensure it stays up to date, according to a statement from the principal.

“Weeding is sometimes thought of as selection in reverse because it removes resources from the collection when they are no longer useful,” the American Library Association explains on its website. “It involves evaluation of the collection in order to determine which resources need to be removed from the collection.”

After the photo began circulating online, Sunrise Park Middle School principal Christina Pierre stated in a July 10 message to the community that the school’s media specialist had been removing outdated books from the school’s collection and tried to “donate as many of the materials as possible,” before putting the remainder of the books in the recycling bin. Some organizations could not accept the books because they “didn’t meet a specified criteria because of the outdated content, required a fee or aren’t accepting donations with COVID-19 restrictions,” Pierre said.

“The books in this picture were removed from the school’s library either because they were outdated and/or because they had not been checked out by any student during the past several years,” Pierre told the Daily Caller in an email. “Books would be considered outdated if they have information that is no longer accurate (for example, a book that refers to the USSR instead of Russia).”

Some residents salvaged some of the discarded books to be donated, local Fox affiliate KMSP reported.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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