March 7, 2017 7:46 pm

Used books spotted in recycling bin in Montreal sparks conversation

WATCH ABOVE: Montrealers were outraged after Le Puits du livre, a community book store in Rosemont, threw out bins full of books. Global's Navneet Pall finds out why people have such an emotional attachment to the paperback.

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Books tossed out in recycling bins is a sight that many Montrealers would prefer not to see.

When passersby in Rosemont photographed books discarded in a recycling bin belonging to the used bookstore La Puie du livre, it stirred a small controversy.

Although traditional books are less utilized than in the past, many feel their value as a symbol of freedom of expression and education is still important.

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However, the La Puie du livre owner Sebastien Charon said his store is full of books and had to get rid of books, as well as records, he felt would not sell.

Concordia University professor Danielle Bobker isn’t surprised to see books tossed out.

“In a way, we’re all responsible for that happening because we have shifted our habits,” Bobker said.

As a specialist in 18th Century literature, a time when print proliferated to the masses, she understands the shift towards digital better than most.

In centuries past, books were a luxury available to the upper classes. Now, the middle of digital revolution means nearly anyone has access to information.

“I think one of the main thrusts of the shift from print to digital publication is a massive amplification of that democratization,” Bobker said.

For Dawson College librarian, Claire Elliott, tossing out books is nothing new because they have to keep up with relevant subjects for students.

“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than when you’re working with a student, trying to find a good book on a topic, and anything you find on your shelves is from the 70s and 80s,” Elliott said.

Elliott also holds the intimacy traditional books provide in high regard but understands that digital services provide students.

“I’ll be working with students and the best materials are coming from our electronic collections, which sometimes a student will be very disappointed. Sometimes they’ll be overjoyed.”

Some students, like Chloe-Ann Berce, find the perfect balance between digital and print.

“On internet you have everything but on hard copy, I write what I think of,” Elliott said. “And then I can actually go on the internet and see some commonalities.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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