With barely enough space to move among her towering stacks of books, Myriam Gaudet holds on to the belief that each one will find a new home.

 

Myriam Gaudet, owner of Red Cart Books in Cornwall, Canada saved around 200,000 books from ending up in landfills. Now, she has a barn and two farms on the same property which are filled with donated hardcovers, paperbacks, and coffee table books.

 

According to National Wildlife Federation, an estimated 640,000 tons of books are sent to landfills annually and around 320 million books are discarded each year.

 

“If I do not take them, they go to the landfill. So I take them. I just wish we could hang on to them long enough until the right person comes and looks for them, because eventually – pretty much every book – someone will come and look for it,” said Myriam Gaudet.

 

It’s been five years since she was saving unwanted and abandoned books that would probably end up in landfills. She also collects unwanted books from local thrift stores.

Till now, she has collected nearly 200,000 books. But now, she’s facing some problems such as the lack of storage to keep the books safe. Gaudet believe that each book in her storage would find a new home soon. Even when standing in between the towering pile of her books, with a tiny little space to move between them, she’s optimistic about the future of this huge collection of books.

myriam-gaudet
Myriam Gaudet stands among the shelves she installed when she first started collecting unwanted books from thrift stores. Her furniture has since jumped to fill two entire farmhouses and a large barn. (Alexander Behne / CBC)

 

 

If Gaudet’s prediction comes true, she will run out of space in her family’s farm buildings within a few months and she might be forced to stop accepting new donations.

 

When she ran the book department in a for-profit thrift store a few years ago, Gaudet learned about the problem. Then, she started a book store and named it ‘Red Cart Books’, In the beginning, the store was an online venture which is primarily focused on selling around 4,000 books to a friend.

 

But when a former colleague contacted Gaudet, everything changed. Gaudet’s colleague contacted her to see if she could save some of the store’s abandoned books by diverting them from the landfill. After that, Gaudet started saving unsold books from the thrift store every week. Then, one thrift store suddenly turned into seven.

 

Head of the Salvation Army’s thrift store in Cornwall, Julie Leroux said that the store has sold 300 to 700 books to Gaudet every week. Julie is glad because the books are not wasted but saved. “[Myriam’s] vision, her need for books … is as strong as ours, “said Julie Leroux. ”We want to make sure everyone gets the chance to read. “

 

In December 2021, she shared a post on her store’s Facebook page to search for a solution. Even though Gaudet has limits that she can afford, She is planning to build a small warehouse to store the books.

 

“No one gets rich by running a bookstore,” she said. “You do it because you love books,” Julie Leroux said about her.

 

Monique Sauvé, a customer who came to Red Cart Books by looking for a book on guided meditation said that it is difficult to find good books on the topic, but New Chakra Healing by Cyndi Dale — once destined for the landfill was sitting on a shelf waiting for her. “It’s nice to see them not being thrown out, because there’s value in every book,” she said.

 

The books in the barn are wrapped in clear plastic and garbage bags to protect them from the elements. Gaudet checks the books regularly to make sure that the books are safe and in good condition.

 

There’s a quote by Garrison Keillor which is valid at the moment. “A book is a gift you can open again and again.”

 

 

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