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A Grade 12 student at Memorial High School in Sydney Mines is trying to rescue thousands of books at her school before they're thrown out. (iStock)

The regional librarian in Cape Breton says books have a "life span" and sometimes libraries have to make the difficult decision to toss out books.

The issue made headlines this week, because a student at Memorial High in Sydney Mines is trying to stop her school from discarding thousands of outdated books.

Faye MacDougall, who works at the Cape Breton Regional Library, said she discards thousands of books each year, to make room for new updated material.

She said public libraries like hers try to find a second life for as many books as they can, by selling or donating them, but she said they can't all be saved.

"There definitely is an emotional attachment to books, and certainly as a librarian, I have a very emotional attachment to books, so we look at them very, very carefully. But there are instances where you know, the spines are broken, pages are missing, things like that and there are times that it just, makes perfect sense that they do have to go," she said.

MacDougall said at the regional library, about half of their discards are sold at public book sales.

Most of the rest are packed up and shipped away to Better World Books, a U.S. company that collects used books and either sells or donates them.

"They provide us with the boxes and also take care of the shipping charges. Then they subsequently will sell those books and if they sell them we will get a small stipend back, we don't get a whole lot back but it is hopefully giving those books a second chance beyond the library," said MacDougall.

MacDougall said any books that are damaged or mouldy have to be discarded.