Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hacker Dojo had dumped its library. Alas, literally.

Dumpster in the Hacker Dojo's parking lot.
One of the Hacker Dojo's appeals was its library.  Unfortunately it got disposed of in the least sophisticated way.

There was a good number of classical books on engineering and software development there.  I've found Code Complete 2 and several Martin Fowler's books in Hacker Dojo's library.  I've added a few of my own books.  A few books I've put on my reading list, but didn't see them again (somebody got to them before me).
About a half of the dumpster is books from Hacker Dojo's library.
Other books were largely outdated.  Not many folks would want to read Flickr Hacks (2006) or Programming Windows 3.1 (1992).
I'm aware that a library is a bit of a white elephant, when it comes to moving.  Nevertheless, there were better options than a dumpster.
  • Post a message on Google group, Facebook, Twitter, and such.  There are people who love books and know what to do with them.  They could take them home, then bring them back to the new Hacker Dojo location.
  • There are plenty of ad hoc book exchange cabinets at local coffee shops.
  • Public libraries accept book donations.  They either add books to their inventory, or sell them.
  • Set the book shelves outside.  That gives folks some time to browse and pick out valuable ones.  That's still a smarter option than a dumpster.
I have picked out a trunkfull, and donated most of them to Redwood City library.  I'll read a couple first before donating.

By the way, during the previous move (from Whisman to Fairchild), the library was preserved.


  1. Meh, most of the books thrown away would never get used. I think first world nations like to complain about book recycling because the potential of lost human knowledge, however most of these books should probably have never been printed to begin with. Most of the "Learn Linux in 24 hours" type of books are just a waste of paper. Nobody gives a crap when a sofa or a filing cabinet is thrown away, but I would argue those items would have greater re-use utility than any of these books.

    How useless does a book need to be before we consider it an ideal candidate for recycling?

    1. Granted, about half of the books at the Dojo’s library were of a transient variety. One needed a book to familiarize himself initially with some bit of tech. Then he went into the depth, and outgrew the initial book. Or, the technology had shifted, and the book is no longer needed.

      You can also add that comprehensive amount of reference material and tutorials have been put on the web in the last 20 years.

      Nevertheless, there was a not-insignificant portion (10% to 20%) of books with long shelf lives: mathematics textbooks, engineering textbooks, classical software engineering books. I salvaged as many of such books as I could. Between then and now, I’ve donated about two dozen to county library system. They were happy to receive them.

      There is a culture associated with books.
      People who decided that the Dojo should have a library understood it.
      People who brought their books to the Dojo (instead of throwing them away one-by-one) understood it.
      Alas, people who decided to quietly put the library into a dumpster did not understand it.