Dumpster Filled With Hundreds of Classic Books Outside Chicago School Sparks Outrage

Hundreds of books, including titles like "The Great Gatsby" and "Hiroshima," were found in a dumpster outside of Senn High School on Chicago’s North Side

A dumpster full of classic books seen outside a Chicago Public Schools high school this week has sparked an outcry on social media.

A photo posted to an Andersonville Facebook group showed hundreds of books, including titles like "The Great Gatsby" and "Hiroshima," tossed in a dumpster outside of Senn High School on Chicago’s North Side.

A neighbor said she saw the books last week and posted an image on social media.

"The books didn’t look like they were destroyed or anything wild so that was really sad," the neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

She added that commenters "got so mad and so heated" in response to her post.

"Give them to some kids who could read a book," she said. "This is silly."

NBC 5 camera crews captured footage of the books in the dumpster Monday afternoon, but Chicago Public Schools did not respond to multiple requests for comment more than 24 hours after the dumpster was seen.

The district later said Senn High School is "currently undergoing renovations to their library" and the school "needed to weed out books that were in surplus or outdated." They also noted nearby Rickover Naval Academy is in the process of moving to a new school building, but said outdated books were being "properly recycled during this process."

"It's possible that some books were included in the weeding process by accident during these major renovations and moves," the district said.

Though CPS said it is in the process of evaluating the situation, it remained unclear what happened to the books that were seen in the dumpster. When NBC 5 crews returned to the scene Tuesday, the dumpster had been removed.

Multiple organizations said they were hoping to recover the books.

Daniel Barat, who owns two Rewired Café locations in Chicago, said he went to the scene to try to salvage the books for the cafe’s community library, but they were already gone.

"They weren’t there," he said. "I actually went inside and talked to one of the employees and I'm like, ‘Where is the dumpster with all the books?' 'Oh they took it.'"

A CPS manager was seen outside the school talking to custodians, but it remained unclear where exactly the books came from and where they had gone. 

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