Tue
Sep 24 2013 1:28pm

Where Do You Donate Your Books?

Books in a stack image by austinevan via FlickrWhere do you donate your books? If you're a voracious reader (and we know you are!), you have many books you have read, and no longer wish to keep, but want to help find a new home. We asked our Twitter friends where they donated, and they offered up some terrific suggestions.

Before you donate, make sure you call your destination and confirm they accept book donations—a few librarians in our feed said their libraries can't process donations any longer, so their libraries don't take used books from patrons.

Here is where people suggested; feel free to add your thoughts in comments:

  • Your friends who also read voraciously.
  • Trading in at your local used bookstore
  • BooksFor Soldiers, which sends books and other needed items to soldiers
  • Freecycle, a grassroots movement that encourages people to share what you have for free, and share what others no longer want
  • American Library Association has an entire page dedicated to where to send books for donation.
  • Vietnam Veterans of America will pick your book donation up for free, and you can book the transaction online.
  • National Coalition for the Homeless has links to find your local homeless shelter, and books are always wanted.
  • The Little Free Library is, “in its most basic form, a...box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.”
  • PrisonBookProgram, where there are lists of what prison book programs are in your area
  • Women's Prison Book Project, which is obviously focused on female prisoners' needs, and so your romance books might be of more interest. You can mail the books to the center and they will distribute (take note of instructions for mailing large donations).
  • Goodwill and other non-profit centers
  • Local chemotherapy and oncology centers, since a few responders said that treatment often takes awhile, and there is very little selection of reading material.
  • Retirement homes

Stack of books image courtesy of austinevan via Flickr

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23 comments
Anna Bowling
1. AnnaBowling
I've released one book into the wild by leaving it in the laundromat, which seemed to work; it wasn't there the next time. In my old domicile, we knew the library swap racks very well (as in I knew when the "new" issue of certain magazines were likely to show up there) and there were multiple romance friendly UBSs an easy drive away. In new home, it's a whole new ballgame. I will definitely look into some of these suggestions. Thanks.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
Someone also mentioned Bookcrossing, but that would only work for a limited amount of books, I would think (since it'd be missing the point to track ALL the books).
Amy
3. ames599
I use Paperbackswap. You create a profile, post the books you don't want and people request them from you. You pay media mail shipping to send them, but for every book you send you get a credit for one in return.
Elizabeth Halliday
4. Ibbitts
I have a favorite used book store that gives credit for books you turn in toward books you want to buy, but they only accept paperbacks.
My local Library has an ongoing book sale that accepts donations of both books and movies.
The VA loves book donations. They circulate books to their patients in both the hospital and the nursing home, as well as those in the waiting rooms. If you start a book and don't finish it before you leave, you are allowed to take it home and bring it back on your next visit to the VA.
Scarlettleigh
5. Scarlettleigh
I don't have as many books now since I use my kindle. Still I take books that I don't want anymore to my local library. They have a yearly sale for Friends of the Library and then the public. And they also have a room set aside to resell books. Since I work in a children's hospital, this last time, I took some books to work and left them in the waiting room. I work on a unit that sometimes has patients there for months and months. It was funny, I saw a mother reading a book, and stated, oh, I read that one. And she said yes, " I remember you bringing the books into the waiting room. As soon as I saw this one, I grabbed it up." Which made me feel good, that I helped supply her with some entertainment.
Donna Fisher
6. dmfisher
I have donated boxes of books to our local Symphony Orchestra, they hold a fundraising book sale every year in our community. The books are recycled within the community and it supports the arts.
Scarlettleigh
7. KT Grant
Every 3 months I donate my books to Lupus:
http://www.lupuspickup.org/gd.ZipCodeRedirector/default.aspx

You just schedule a pick up through their website and they will pick up your books and other things you want to donate, such as clothes and other household items. This week I have 6 bags of books being picked up. :)

I've done this for 4 years now and easily have donated over 1000 books and cleaned my shelves without throwing the beloved books in the garbage.
Scarlettleigh
8. Pamela1740
For those in metro Boston, this is best place I know to donate books:
MORE THAN WORDS
http://mtwyouth.org/
from their website:
Our youth run an inviting 501(c)3 nonprofit used bookstore featuring a wide array of titles, comfortable seating, and free wi-fi. At our in-store coffee bar, we proudly serve Starbucks coffee, espresso, tea, and other popular café drinks, as well as delicious baked treats.More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.
Scarlettleigh
9. MelM
One of the clubs at the college where I work has an annual book sale where I donate all my extras. At the end of the sale anything that hasn't sold is donated to Goodwill. But I always think of the "shopping bag ladies" of my past. When I was a child I didn't know about bookstores. Books came out of the shopping bags that came along with every visitor to the house and went along with my mother when she left the house. Every gathering of my mom and her friends involved a book exchange. It still does 45 years later. I guess the best way to donate books is to have lots of friends with similar tastes.
Scarlettleigh
11. Lucy D
Thanks for the suggestions. I just brought books to my office and was asked to remove them. Nothing naughty, but most were review copies w no covers so I am guessing the titles offended someone.
Scarlettleigh
12. DianeN
I suggest that everyone consider donating used books to their local public libraries. As someone who was first downsized and then offered an early retirement incentive by the library system where I worked for over 24 years, I can assure you that libraries are feeling the catastrophic effects of the economic crunch along with the rest of the country. When I decided to move after my retirement I needed to get rid of many of my books, so I offered them up to both my library system and several of its members. Even if libraries choose not to add donated books to their collections, most of them hold regular book sales, the proceeds of which help to supplement their rapidly decreasing budgets.
Scarlettleigh
13. Linda B
I donate to the VA and to the DAV. The VA has no funds for books but the wounded / patients need something to occupy their minds. I try to take complete series or stand-alones when I donate. I may have hit the used or new bookstore to complete a series if I don't have all of them myself...................
Scarlettleigh
14. Sandy Kay
I second the recommendation to check with your local library. My library no longer adds donated books to the collection but we have a Friends of the Library group that does book sales twice a year to raise money for library programs. Smaller libraries may only accept them shortly before the sale but other libraries have lots of storage space and accept donations year round.
Scarlettleigh
15. Sandy Kay
There is another option that requires a little more expense and effort. Back when a friend was deployed to Iraq, I would periodically send boxes of books for him to read and share with his fellow soldiers. He had women in his unit so I sent romances as well. We still have troops in Afghanistan. But you need to find a specific person to send them to, you can't send them to "Any Soldier" at a base.
Scarlettleigh
16. The Bookwyrm's Hoard
I'll third the suggestion to check with your local library. Our Friends of the Library runs huge sales twice a year to raise money which they use to help the library with various needs. And ours actually does pick out some recent books in near-mint condition to add to the collection.

If you donate to retirement homes or nursing homes, don't forget that print size can be an issue for a lot of older people.

If you're part of a book group, or have several friends who read a lot and share similar tastes, you could throw a book swap party. Everyone brings the books they don't want anymore and takes home as many as they brought (or fewer.) Be creative about ways to avoid squabbles over the same book -- take turns, draw numbers, whatever works for your group. And any leftover books could then be donated to the charity of your choice.
Scarlettleigh
17. pellington
Paperbackswap is a fantastic club where you can get all matters of books audios for free, in exchange for your books and audios. There are also sister sites: swapadvd and swapacd.

Having said that, KT, I'm super excited about the lupus donation option because my mom recently died of the disease and I have to go back East in a month to box up her belongings. I was hoping to donate her clothes, books, shoes, purses, etc. to a Salvation Army (who is truly non profit, unlike Goodwill), but now that I know there is a lupus donation option, I will donate the goods there instead.

PS-Friends of the Libarary sales are AWESOME. I'm only missing mine this year because of the aforementioned trip back east. The irony.
Mary Lynne Nielsen
18. emmel
Libraries, yes, but also look at churches/houses of religion. A lot of them have book sales or rummage sales that take books. And that money usually goes to support its programs.
Scarlettleigh
19. Brenda Rumsey
Many children's hospitals have a "resource room" near their ICU units where parents and friends can check out books, games, and toys for their use. Some of these children are in for weeks at a time and the books are realy appreciated.
Scarlettleigh
20. Barbara Rasmussen
Some books I pass on to friends, but the majority I donate to the local library. Because of budget cuts, they don't purchase paperbacks anymore. The ones they don't want get passed on to Friends of the Library to sell in their bookstore.
Janis Clark
21. maliamartin
Sometimes I pass on to a friend. Most of the time I donate to my local library. Complete sets sell well on Craigslist.
Scarlettleigh
22. Gail Moody-Byrd
The African Library Project is a non-profit set up to organize book donations to build new libraries for children in rural Africa. You can gather books via a community service project or groups you belong to, send the books via the ALP system, and start a brand new library. It's easy: here is the link to learn more:
http://www.africanlibraryproject.org/book-drives/start-a-book-drive. In the past 7 years, ALP has shipped over 1 million books and started over 1,000 new libraries in Africa.
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