Dustbin man’s library of thrown away books

Yesterday I stumbled upon the following headline – “Dustbin man builds free library of thrown away books”. 

According to the BBC:

A dustbin man in Bogota in Colombia, who never studied further than primary school, has gathered a library of more than 20,000 thrown away books.


After a little digging, I discovered that it was not just the BBC being fanciful, this fellow really did exist and was turning “rubbish” into learning. He would save books, often thrown out by the rich, and provide them as a free library to the poor.

Back in the UK, if you are done with books the general answer seems to be to dump them in charity shops or just build more shelves. Sure, we have a few indie bookshops and, with a bit of time, you can trade old books in for other old books (not such a bad deal). Even so, I have seen many a pile of books sat, unloved, in a heap by the roadside. UIsually the day after it has rained.

I can’t help but wonder if our attitude towards books is a contributing factor to how little the average author earns? It worries me, not just a little, that we can treat books more and more as a disposable resource. Meanwhile, our local libraries struggle to cover the cost of acquiring books. It feels like we are missing an obvious mutual solution here. At least in Bogota, there is someone to save the books and give them purpose again. That guy has it figured out.

There are other solutions to unloved and unwanted books – find them a new home. The Website Read it; Swap it exists to help you do just that. While I am not the least bit sure how I feel about it there is also a “we buy any book” site – webuybooks.co.uk.

What do you do with your unwanted books?

About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.

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