Saturday, January 5, 2008

Warning: Libraries Don't Keep All Donated Books - And That's OK

ad for a friends of the library book sale

Got books you seldom look at? Donate them to your local library and you can check them out whenever you want them.

I see this advice in various places - and unfortunately, it's not very good advice.

As one anonymous commenter noted when I wrote about 10 ways to find new homes for your books:
As a librarian, I think I should tell you that libraries 99.9% of the time do NOT add donated books to their shelves. They may sell them to the library public, or trash them. You gotta be OK with this if you donate your books to a library.
Of course, if your goal is to help your library or your fellow readers, your donations will certainly do that - assuming the books you donate are in good condition and meet any other donation criteria the library has established. Here's what the Springfield-Greene County Library in Missouri says on its web site:
Drop off your "pre-read" books at any of the Library branches. Your donations are sold by the Friends of the Library at book sales throughout the year. In the past 17 years, the Friends have raised more than $500,000 to benefit the Library and made thousands of booklovers happy.
So be sure to check your library's donation policy before giving them books with the expectation that those books will be kept. Here's a sample policy from Manchester District Library in Michigan:
The library accepts donations of books and AV materials with the understanding that the library does not promise to add materials to the collection. Some materials will be added to the collection or used to replace worn copies in the library's collection. Some materials may be sold by the library or by the Friends of the Manchester District Library. In a few cases, materials may be discarded.
And here's the policy from Fontbonne University in Missouri:
Fontbonne University Library welcomes and appreciates donations for its collections. Donated library materials will be retained when their content contributes to the purpose of the Fontbonne University Library collection. If contact information is available, the Library will provide a letter of acknowledgement for tax purposes. Appraisals are solely the responsibility of the donor. Due to space limitations and processing costs, not all donations can be placed in the library. Donations are accepted on the condition that the Library is free to sell or discard any materials that do not meet the collection criteria. Any deviation from this policy must be negotiated before the donation takes place.

[image from Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia]


TamboinMO said...

I read your blog most every day and it tickled me to see "my" library...the Springfield Greene Country library mentioned!!

I live within walking distance and everyone waits for their big sale every year. That is where I always donate my books.

I can't say enough good things about "my" library!!

Jeri Dansky said...

TamboinMO, I'm so glad I stumbled upon "your" library! It's nice to read about libraries with that much community support.

Blue Yonder said...

On the flip side...if you want to take advantage of all the great library book sales and donated books, Book Sale Finder is a great resource for keeping up-to-date on book sales at libraries in your area.

Jeri Dansky said...

Great resource, Blue Yonder - but dangerous for those who already have more books than their homes can hold!