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Disappearing textbooks costing schools a lot of money to replace


Published on September 5, 2017

If you've got textbooks laying around the house, the schools would love to have them back.

©Tina Comeau

YARMOUTH, N.S. – With students returning to class, a local vice-principal saw this as a good time to point out that his school and others lose textbooks every year – losses that can add up, given the price tag for many of these volumes. 

Derek Lesser of Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School says he doubts any of these books get stolen, but he still isn’t entirely sure what becomes of them.

“It’s kind of interesting, this phenomenon that books go missing,” he said. “They’re not really of any value to anybody except for us, and they’re a huge value to us because they’re so expensive.”

He suspects what often happens is books end up under someone’s bed or in their closet and, as the summer goes by, they’re forgotten. Or they could be in the trunk of a car the student may have been driving.

If the person happens to have just graduated and goes away to university in the fall, the book or books may only be found later and, by then, Lesser says, people may be reluctant to return them, perhaps out of embarrassment.

It’s kind of interesting, this phenomenon that books go missing. They’re not really of any value to anybody except for us, and they’re a huge value to us because they’re so expensive.

YCMHS vice-principal Derek Lesser

He acknowledges there can be times when someone actually will lose a book.

Whatever the reason for their disappearance, he says, the reality is that textbooks are pricey.

“Math books and science books, they’re over $100 a book,” he said. “I think the biology books are like $150.”

At the high school in Yarmouth, in one math course, about 30 books went missing in two years, he said.

Years ago, the school would withhold a student’s report card until their books were returned, but this is no longer done.

Lesser encourages people who have textbooks in their homes to return them to the school. In the case of YCMHS, he says they’ll even drive out and pick up books.

“You know, we’re talking about how to save money in education,” he said, “and it just seems like such a waste that we’re spending thousands every year to replace books.”