I was recently in a bookshop in the country town of Hay-on-Wye, when, taking down a four-volume set of Otto Benesch's collected writings on art, Brighton's sea air came to mind.

It would have cost me £60 - and had, until recently, been part one of Brighton Library's books.

Many other of the library's books are there, such as, at £10 a volume, dozens of instalments of the Proceedings Of The Kent Archaeological Society, and, at £15 each, the important volumes of Documents On British Foreign Policy, as well as the collected poems of that excellent US poet, Richard Eberhardt, who recently died aged 101.

As the woman at the till said to me, "we don't take any old rubbish here".

Even if it had been necessary to get rid of such books, many other institutions would have welcomed them.

When it was part of East Sussex County Council, the library was linked with the County Store, to which, a helpful librarian there told me, volumes are "always being added".

Meanwhile, the grim situation Hay reveals can only get far get worse.

Brighton and Hove City Council's Mr Miller claims (The Argus, August 22) that it is legally required to throw away stock because the Government "requires us to completely change and replenish our lending stock every 6.7 years".

It's more than 6.7 - this is Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which paper burns, as made famous by Ray Bradbury's book of the same name).

The long-needed edition of Oscar Wilde's Letters, published in 2000, has 18 months left. The definitve edition of Pepys's Diary, well overdue for the heave-ho, is in the skip with Virginia Woolf's Letters, which now cost £300 secondhand.

The library expert Tim Coates tells me, however, that Mr Miller is "referring to the 'national library standard', which is intended to increase the rate of aquisition of new titles, not encourage the disposal of old ones".

It is most certainly not a law but an inept piece of guidance which the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is going to scrap because of such rash interpretations of it as Mr Miller's.

In fact, the average age of a library book is 6.7 years, which means many can, and should, be far older.

This average age of 6.7 years emerged in the Sixties, when judging the need for rebinding library books.

It is an irony worthy of Swift that a figure picked for the preservation of books is now used for their removal.

-Christopher Hawtree, Hove