or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Stopping Unsolicited Scientology Books

   January 16th, 2013

Scientology books in my libraryA couple weeks ago, my library received the latest shipment of free Scientology books, and I'm guessing your library did too. On the whole, we never want these books, and rarely do they make it to our shelves (or even out of the boxes they came in).

So I was happy to see a post on the Maine Libraries listserv the following week (from Mamie Anthoine Ney of the Southern Maine Library District) detailing an email exchange she had with the company that sends them out. She asked them to stop sending them to her site, and this is the response she received:

Dear Ms Ney,

Thank you for message alerting me to this situation.

I have taken your address off the mailing list.

If you have not been able to send the books back yet, let me know the correct address, contact name and number and I can have my shipping department get FedEx to pick them up.

The books are very valuable and I do not want them to go to waste.

I will pick these up right away if you have not been able to arrange this.

Best regards,

Mr. Larry Perras
Library Distribution Manager
Bridge Publications
5600 E. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90022
(323) 888-6200

Mr. Perras' email is address is [email protected] and he is the person to contact if you'd like your library to stop getting these boxes of books. I forwarded this to my library's Head of Technical Services, and she was only too happy to email them to take us off the list (although we never got a reply from them).

Thank you Mamie for sharing this information - hopefully it will keep more of these books from ending up in dumpsters.

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14 Responses to “Stopping Unsolicited Scientology Books”

  1. Emily Says:


  2. Becky Says:

    Thank you indeed! That’s wonderful to know. Next, we figure out how to stop all of the “prediction” mailings from the Mormons.

  3. Justin Hoenke Says:

    I once worked at a library that accepted all donations. We had to put anything that was donated into our catalog. I think I did original cataloging (rural library, did everything by hand) for every single Scientology book we received that year (2007). Memories…..

  4. Vicky Says:

    We “clearly” love you, Brian. Just sayin’

  5. Cheryl McNeil Says:

    Thank you! We put them out on our “Free” table and they went within 24 hours. I couldn’t believe it. I guess people like anything that’s free.

  6. Mamie Anthoine Ney Says:

    The part of the email that got me was his claim that the books are very valuable. If they only knew how many of them ended up in the recycling bin …

  7. Peg Burington Says:

    I contacted Larry Parras and asked that our library be removed from the mailing list. FEDEX picked up the books last week. Whohoo!

  8. Madeline Wagner Says:

    This was a life-saver. I didn’t want to burden a organization like Better World Books with this “donation” and my boss didn’t want me to toss them. Fed Ex picked the boxes up this morning and hopefully we won’t receive any more of these unsolicited donations.

  9. Sandi Brunscheen Says:

    Please do not send anymore books

  10. theindielibrarian Says:


    I thought perhaps we were just getting these because we’re a religious institution and then I started to realize all libraries were getting them.

    The latest set we received goes for $800 set on their site. For realsies?

  11. DeElizabethan Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I look forward to other libraries doing the same. You did the right thing and happy that you did, for you more likely saved an individual from the dangerous cult’s con, let alone fraud they are now being sued for in Florida.

  12. John Baker Says:

    I can understand librarians not wanting to place Scientology books on the shelves if they already have a set, but if your library doesn’t have these books, why would you not want to have at least one set?

    I’ve encountered librarians who literally have thrown these books into the garbage, sets that have been paid for by Scientology parishioners. And these were libraries that didn’t even have any Scientology books at all. It comes across as bias and bigotry to me, like certain libraries that refuse to stock books about Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism.

    That’s very sad. One comment here states that their library put a set of Scientology books out on a “free table” and they were gone fast. Obviously, there are many people interested in reading these books and it is shameful that there are librarians such as yourselves that want to prevent access to these books.

    It is even more shameful considering that public libraries are *public*, i.e. taxpayer funded, and therefore should provide access to all manner of books, and should not be allowed to refuse to put books on their shelves just because one of their librarians has a bias against a particular group or religion.

  13. Brian Herzog Says:

    @John: Collection development in a public library is fine balancing act, using limited (very limited in many cases) library resources to meet the public’s need. If my library had kept all the unsolicited Scientology books sent to us over the years, we’d probably have three or four shelves of them – which is to say, we’d have three or four shelves less of other books we currently have. Shelf space in libraries is finite, and pretty much everything there needs to justify and earn its space.

    In my library, I think we have about four or five Scientology books, and those don’t circulate very well – so clearly, we do not have the demand to justify adding a bunch more, just because they were sent to us for free (this is “free as in kittens” free, as in you don’t need to pay for it upfront, but there are definitely costs involved in keeping and caring for it).

    Public libraries actually get a lot of free material, much of which probably never makes it to the shelves. Just because something is free doesn’t mean it’s useful, or justifies the “free as in kittens” hidden costs. Well-meaning patrons donate us their twenty-year-old set of encyclopedias and don’t understand why we don’t want them; local writers donate books they’ve written themselves and had printed and photocopied at Staples and don’t understand why we wouldn’t prominently shelve right by the front door; someone will donate their late mother’s well-used (and multi-stained) collection of cookbooks… The list goes on, and it’s not to say these books aren’t worthless, but their place is not in a public library.

    Every library will have a collection development policy, which explicitly spells out how they choose books for their collection. Ours is online. Each will be tailored to the needs of our individual communities – that’s because each library is there for, and answerable to, its community, not people who are looking for a place to distribute their material.

    Also, in regards to the books getting quickly snapped up off a “free table” – I know many people come to our book sale looking for bargains, and take just about anything we put out for free, because they plan to resell it for a profit. A brand new set of these books probably looks like a gold mine for someone – in fact, there are a few sets on ebay right now.

  14. Lora Says:

    THANK YOU, Brian! We just got a DVD/Blu-Ray about Scientology, so I’ve now sent off a request for our library to be removed from the mailing list. I’m really hoping it works, not only because our DVD collection is already out of control and eating the fiction section.

    To John’s point: I’m the buyer for the “200s” in this library, so I have no problem adding Scientology material to the collection, along with JW, Mormon, Jewish, Episcopal, Islam, and anything else. However, I prefer to do my own selection of materials that are reviewed so I know what I’m getting ahead of time. We do have books on Scientology (http://contentcafe2.btol.com/ContentCafe/Jacket.aspx?UserID=NSL44939&Password=CC19416&Return=1&Type=L&Value=9780691146089 for instance) that fit the bill.

    It’s not just religion; we also “throw away” (i.e. book sale) all vanity press material that is sent to us that has no local history value. This includes a really creepy book about teeth causing all the medical problems we suffer from, and some literally incoherent science-meets-paranoia items.

    OK, anyway. Thanks again, Brian. 😉