When David Boyd found 171 children's books in the trash behind Hereford Library last month, he asked Jim Fish, Baltimore County Public Library director, if he could pick up books destined to be destroyed.
Boyd's wife, Cathy, who teaches at Essex Elementary School, said she would bring them to her students.
Fish declined Boyd's offer.
In a letter dated March 30, Fish told Boyd that books are considered county property and should not be given to individuals or nonprofit organizations.
"I understand that you have good intentions and see this as a simple procedure," Fish wrote. "However, the issue is not that simple."
Fish questioned the fairness of giving books to one group or person and wondered about the logistics of storing books to be picked up by Boyd.
"I feel he's stone-walling me," said Boyd, of White Hall. "The taxpayers bought the books with our tax money, so I think that makes them our books. All he's doing is coming up with one excuse after another when there are kids who would love these books."
The books Boyd wanted to retrieve are ones librarians don't consider to be in resale condition. The library system sends excess or old books that can be resold to Better World Books, an online bookstore. It receives a portion of the proceeds. Books not suitable to be resold go into the county's recycle stream.