This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting Hart Middle School‘s newly renovated library. It was a nice and bright place. But it was also pretty empty of books. Many of the shelves were not close to full. In early November, the school tossed most of its books into a pair of dumpsters. The school’s principal claimed the books were too old.

The school’s librarian, Martin Ezeagu, took it a step further claiming that those old paperbacks were extreme health hazards. He told me that every time he touches them, he must wash his hands. He then demonstrated how he washes his hands in a sink located behind the tiny reference section.

But he said sometimes even warm water and soap wouldn’t save him from that dog-eared copy of Invisible Man. Ezeagu told me: “Some of the books are so old they cause cancer.”

So is the Library of Congress just a giant cancer factory? Are old books as unhealthy as cigarettes? Or is this just some DCPS myth?