Several members of the community say they are outraged by the disposal of hundreds of Coquihalla Middle School books that were found at the Merritt Recycling Depot on Wednesday.

“Why didn’t they donate the books?” said retired school teacher Ida Hedrick, who discovered the books while recycling. “When I worked at the school and we had to trash the books, we had a three-day open house for people to come in, take what they want and then a large majority went to the poorer countries and the church groups picked up the costs of shipping.”

She said local daycares and literacy groups should have been asked about their needs prior to tossing the books.

Copies of children’s encyclopedias, trades books and novels, such as Animal House, were tossed into the bins.

But Nicola-Similkameen School District 58 Superintendent Bob Peacock said the books are outdated and disposal is regular.

“These are really old books that are no longer being used,” he said.

“We burnt them in the past, so people didn’t know books were being discarded, but we no longer have a beehive burner and the recycling outfit didn’t used to take them.”

He said the district recycled the books because CMS is closing at the end of June and will have many in excess.

“We looked at donating them overseas, but there is a cost factor and they didn’t want them anymore,” he added. “[The books] can’t be used for daycare, they aren’t good for primary kids…”

Heather McBride, owner of White Bear Daycare on Nicola Avenue, said her operation is always looking for new books.

“It would have been nice [if we were asked],” she said. “There is always a need for more.”

Many books are still in boxes at CMS waiting to be discarded or sent to other Merritt schools that may need them, Peacock said.

Another Merritt resident, who didn’t want to be named, was angry at first, but then she retracted her statements and said her son found a “gold mine” when he went to the recycling depot.