I have been reading Erik Reinert's How Rich Countries Got Rich... and Poor Countries Stay Poor, which is a lot of fun because it covers ground that economists have long forgotten (even though I do have questions about Reinert's understanding of contemporary economics). One of the snippets in the book is that the Baker Library at the Harvard Business School discarded in 1984 all of the books that had not been checked out in the last fifty years (including most of its collection of Friedrich List). Reinert says that he subsequently bought some of these books from book dealers.
I find this to be outrageous, and almost hard to believe. The typical deep research (i.e. a Google search) has not turned up any more information about this infamous event in the history of librarianship. I suppose I could walk over and ask myself, but I wonder if anyone out there has any knowledge of it.
Baker library holds a special place in my heart as I spent a god bit of my undergraduate years in its bowels. After two years of working in the dining halls and washing dishes, I made a professional leap in my junior year to a research assistantship with the incomparable Raymond Vernon (of the international product cycle fame.) Ray Vernon would eventually turn out to become a mentor and strong supporter, but at the time he presented a terrifying figure to a shy undergraduate. I would ensconce myself in Baker for hours for fear of failing to come up with good results. I still remember vividly the very first two tasks he set me on: to come up with minimum efficient scale figures for the auto industry and with evidence that long-term contracts fare poorly in international trade. What would now take about ten minutes sitting in front of a PC took me days and days of walking the stacks at Baker.
And I remember the librarians at Baker as nice and wise folks who would not have made such a blunder...