Leftover books at UW-Green Bay’s Manitowoc campus to avoid dumpster | WLUK
(WLUK) — It appears the books not purchased in a sale at UW-Green Bay’s Manitowoc campus will have a better future than those that weren’t sold at the school’s Marinette location.
There will be two more days this week, Wednesday and Thursday, to buy $1 books from the university library in Manitowoc.
The campus, along with the one in Marinette, ended in-person library services at the end of 2023 due to budget problems.
In Marinette, thousands of books filled a large dumpster, at least twice, after a one-day book sale.
Many in the community, who claimed there wasn’t enough advertisement for the sale, were angry to see the books thrown into the bin for recycling.
“I was disgusted, I was shocked,” said Fran Nelson, a member of ESTHER – a social justice organization based in Neenah. “I know other bookstores during COVID have had to do recycling because they have inventory coming in but nowhere to go with it, but I’ve never heard of an educational institution, at the university level especially, dumping books.”
Nelson says ESTHER has donated more than 2,500 books to prisons since 2021.
She says the organization has an arrangement in place to take the books that aren’t sold from UW-Green Bay’s Manitowoc campus.
“You have to agree to take the books as is,” said Nelson of the arrangement. “You don’t get to go through them and take what you want or inventory them or ask the library to do that. You just take what they have.”
Nelson says the group also agreed to not resell any of the books, and will transport the books in a timely manner.
UW-Green Bay says when it dumped the books in Marinette, the school followed the State Procurement Manual.
An email from a UW-Green Bay spokesperson states the school first identified books to transfer to the campus in Green Bay. Then, it offered books to other UW System libraries and the local public library. A book sale was held and then all remaining books were recycled.
The State Procurement Manual states donations to nonprofit corporations must be advertised and the donation must occur in a competitive manner. No single nonprofit may be singled out for donation.
The UW-Green Bay spokesperson says the school didn’t necessarily need to follow that policy for donating the books to ESTHER because the books will ultimately land in other state institutions.
“It’s worked out really well because budgets for prison libraries are not that great, so it was a good way to get more materials in the hands of people who have lots of time to read,” said Nelson.
FOX 11 asked Nelson if it is ironic that a state institution that doesn’t have the funds for books will end up receiving the books from another state institution that might have thrown the books away had ESTHER not offered to take the books.
“I wonder if that isn’t something that happens more often than we know that one state institution doesn’t know what the other is doing or needing,” said Nelson.
State Sen. Eric Wimberger, R-Green Bay, says his office, and likely others, would be willing to find out if there is a mechanism in place for better communication between state agencies.
Wimberger and State Sen. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, say updating the State Procurement Manuel is another thing worth looking at.
“If the alternative is to throw it all away, if they can’t sell it, they probably should be trying to give it away,” said Wimberger.
“You always want to make sure that everything is exhausted before you get to the point of basically wasting a public asset,” said Jacque.
Jacque says he plans on talking with UW-Green Bay’s chancellor about what happened with the Marinette books. He also plans to ask legislative counsel about the state procurement policy.
UW-Green Bay reports the cut of in-person library services will save $67,183 a year in Marinette and $76,816 a year in Manitowoc.