Kathryn, this article is timely. But such an insane practice has been standard in some libraries for at least the last decade. One librarian and I shared a laugh. She and others would 'check out' books essential to the library just to save them from the clutches of the library director, who was determined to turn the public library into a computer only center. That one check out would preserve the book until the next purge! Believe it.
We commiserated with another librarian. Hers was a newly opened public facility. The only books in the Young Adult section were recent publications, and a large number of them were objectionable to many parents. If there were classics, we didn't see them. Hers was a collection not usable for many families.
The holding of that which is good and beautiful, and necessary for civilisation--certainly a noble goal for our public libraries. And a lost role for many.
I have to admit that I feel rather silly for not having thought to suggest this before, but, really, it wouldn't take very many of us going to libraries and checking out books we don't want lost to the community, to save quite a few books worth saving.
Spread the word, eh?
Thanks, johng, and please thank those librarian friends of yours who battle for a good, healthy selection of books in their libraries.