Where to Donate Books

by - Monday, January 07, 2019

Where to Donate Books

The Great Donate 2019 is on! Can you donate, gift, or recycle 2,019 items out of your house this year? The average American household has 300,000 items in it- who needs that much? No one, but there are lots of people who could use what you have sitting collecting dust. Check out The Great Donate 2019 for more inspiration and ideas. 

Books are the best. I don't trust people who don't have a substantial book hoard. But how many books is too many?

For Christmas, The Boy and I went in together to buy one big book shelf to fit all of our books. For almost a year, our books have been living in boxes in our basement. It's coming any day now, and as I moved all of our books out of storage and back to the book shelf spot, two things become clear:

1. Books are really heavy.

2. We have too many books.

So. Many. Books. Lots of us have this problem. Where I can take it easy buying most anything else, I honestly never feel much pause buying books (mostly secondhand, but still). So where other areas of our home are much neater, our books are still pretty overwhelming. We definitely have a major book purge coming up.

So, if you are purging a lot of books (even damaged children's books), it could be so tempting to just trash them rather than dragging them around.

Don't do it! No book should ever go in the trash. There are nearly endless options for getting rid of books that is better for the Earth and even helps someone out! Just remember, check with the websites to make sure you have the kinds of books they need (soldiers overseas probably don't need board books, programs for reading to dogs don't need hard theory).

 Here are some options (I will throw a few extras for children's books at the end):

Give it on Buy Nothing

If you are in a Buy Nothing group, the quickest first step is to offer it to your neighbor. Weird bonus, you get to learn more about who is into the things you are! I now have a neighbor (a college student) who gets first dibs on all my grad school theory books.

Love your Local Library

Check with your local library about what donations they are taking for books. There are often "Friends of..." organizations that manage donations. Even if something doesn't seem like the right fit for the library, they may use it in fundraising booksales to keep it open. To me, local libraries are sacred spaces, and they take care of your community in so many ways you may not even notice. Pay the favor back and help how you can.

Send Them to Africa

Books for Africa is an organization that has been sending books to African countries with minimal access for 30 years. This isn't a cute thing- it's about getting textbooks and educational materials to places where they can potentially have book droughts. They have a substantive page about how helpful and important these books are for literacy, though I think you have to be thoughtful about the books you send.

Send them to Prisoners

Feeling like you need to help prisoners in our penitentiary system? Donating to Books for Prisoners can help someone who needs support find all the knowledge and comfort we get from reading books. Out of a landfill and brightens the day of someone who really needs it. I think we may do this with our book donation. Books through Bars has a similar program, and there is a really good list

Give to your Local Secondhand Shop or Charity

Even small towns sometimes have secondhand book stores, and some cities like LA and Portland have huge ones. Giving your books can help support a local business, and the less distance your books travel, the less fossil fuels they use.

Any local thrift shop can be a perfect place to drop off your books. Really look into who is doing what near where you are (if you live in LA, Re-Book It share my dream of keeping all books out of landfills. They are the coolest). You might be surprised! San Francisco has their own program as well.

Send Them to Soldiers Overseas

My friends who have been deployed have mentioned that being that far away can be alienating and boring! A good book can shift help with both of those feelings. So if you have been hoping to help out our servicepeople overseas (and you have a big collection of fun leisure reads), check out the page for Operation Paperback. They have expanded to send books to veterans and military families as well, so this could be a place to check for other kinds of books as well.

Take them to a Little Free Library (or Make Your Own)

Little Free Libraries are popping up all over the United States- you can read all about them on this website. You could go find the ones near you and drop off some books. Don't have any near you? Make your own! You can set up your own Little Free Library, register online, and make your community even a little bit better.

If Nothing Fits, Sell It

Not sure anyone wants your long series of historical novels about the invention of White Out? Good self-assessing, that is a niche audience for sure. Lucky for you, the internet makes it exceptionally easy to find that one other White Out lover. Put them on Ebay or Amazon- someone out there will enjoy that book.

Where to Donate Books

Enjoy all that fresh shelf space! Such a good feeling to get rid of things you don't need! Want to do more donating? Check out The Great Donate 2019 for more inspiration and ideas.

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