Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#203 - Checking In

Donating Books to a Library

This is the first in an installment of tips to help you "Be A Giver". If you haven't signed up for the challenge yet, it's not too late. In fact, we're open 24-7 here at Going Green so it's never too late (Although we do shut down the back dining area between 2am - 3am each night to clean the tables and refill the salt shakers).

Anyhow, I know the most convenient thing to do when making donations is to pack all your crap up and drop it all at one place like Goodwill or Salvation Army. And that's good, but you can do better. After all, that book will be purchased by one individual and will most likely go live on their bookshelf for several years. And really, what good is that? You've decluttered your home by recluttering someone else's.

Try to assess your items to determine where they will get the most use. The obvious choice, for books at least, is the library. If you choose to donate to a public library, it may put on the shelves to be loaned out to many others, or (more likely) it will be sold at one of their fundraisers. But at least there's a chance it will be put into circulation. Ask your librarian to be sure.

But don't think of your public library as your only choice. Many smaller (ie: desperate) libraries will be happy to take your donations and put them in the stacks. Great options here are college and university libraries; high school, middle school and elementary school libraries; preschool libraries; private libraries at nursing homes and retirement community centers; hospital libraries; prison libraries; military base libraries; the list goes on. Basically, anywhere there is higher learning or bored masses, you'll likely find a library.

I know, I know you're thinking "Dude, I'm just trying to donate some freakin' books to a charity. Don't make this harder than it needs to be". Well I'm not. And let's drop the attitude, shall we?

The bottom line is, you're trying to do something good. But why not go the extra step and make sure you're doing the most good you can with your donation. Because you know what? It's still WAY EASIER than hosting a garage sale!


Wendy said...

Another option for giving away books is It's an organization in which volunteers send books to our soldiers stationed overseas - mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Korea. Volunteers can also send other items, like snacks, toiletries and DVDs, which can be difficult to find in some areas over there. There are also some requests for items for the Iraqi nationals, like clothing or school supplies for kids in orphanages or the schools some of our units have "adopted."

Kathryn said...

Our public library system absolutely refuses to take donated books. They get all their books new from Baker and Taylor (the same people who supply Amazon) and have no need for my castoffs. I like the idea of the nursing home/hospital/retirement center libraries, though.

Green Bean said...

I really agree with you on this one. In fact, I think this logic applies to anything we donate. Every since my sister pulled a doll house out of a Goodwill dumpster, I realized that they do actually throw stuff away some time and more often items donated to a big charity like that are broken, pieces of a set lost and so on.

Whenever I go on a decluttering binge, the dining room table takes center stage. I divide items up to what the schools can use, what a local organziation that works with disabled kids can use, what an agency working with foster kids can use, the list goes on.

And you are right. It is still WAY easier that hosting a garage sale.

heather t said...

We get Canadian TV here in Michigan, and there was a commercial the other night urging people to support funding for Ontario school libraries. They said that, on average, the school libraries have 1 book per 3 students. Yow! I'm sure you have Canadian readers - could they back this up? Help out?

MamaBird said...

A lot of schools have used book sales, and something that works here in the scary big city ;) is to stick your stuff on the sidewalk with a sign that says FREE on it. I just got rid of a big candle and some toddler makeup that way (and no, no one on freecycle seemed to want their tiny baby to put on eye shadow either, weird huh?). I didn't know I got credit for it! Bingo! Decluttering! And I have a pile of books and will be using yr suggestions. Rock on, Burbanmom.

Leslie said...

Hope this is helpful...

This link takes you to the Book Sale Finder site. Click on your state on the map, and it will tell you where to find the closest booksale, hence the closest place to donate books to the booksale.

Big D said...

Sorry that I have to be so quick today but I wanted to sound off -

I just this monday took a couple of boxes of books to the library across the street, but that was after I took them to a used book store and sold them whatever they wanted to buy. Now, that does mean those books might end up cluttering up someone else's house, but the $30 that I got from selling those books went to fund a green-power-switch purchase. So I like to think that liquidating my stuff did end up being green.

In Nashville, "Freecycle" is a big thing, and I have put VHS tapes and books on there before and they go like hotcakes. The cool thing is, even though the item does go to one other person (rather than a public library), freecyclers are pretty likely to re-freecycle that item when they're done.

Thanks so much for the thought about library vs. goodwill. the reason I took my books to the library was because it was quicker than goodwill, but i'll definitely think in terms of community-use when i recycle things!

Anonymous said...

Yay! This one's already on my to-do list for this weekend. After I write up my reviews of a couple of environmental kids books tomorrow, I'm donating one to the library and giving the other as a freebie on my site.

Whenever my brother, the illustrator, comes out with a new children's book, I buy copies to donate to libraries as well. I like to donate brand new books rather than used ones.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! Libraries & public literacy are causes dear to my heart.

Both my day job and part-time side business deal with books, and libraries are the recipient of any of my side business stock that has passed its "saleable life". You know, old edition textbooks and the 5001st copy of The DaVinci Code. The bookstore I work for donates its leftovers to an YMCA fundraising book sale - not quite as beneficial, but better than chucking them in the dumpster. (Which is what they used to do before I started working there!)

Even if the library sells the books instead of putting them out on the shelf, you know that money is going right back into something that will benefit the community. That might be anything from new bestsellers, extra labor hours to start a daily "storytime hour", or another new computer for public internet access.

Yea! You've inspired me to do another search through my sagging bookshelves; it's getting about that time.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Please add the Oakland Public Library to your list of recipients. I gave them Michael Recycle and Knut on Saturday. (Michael didn't want the polar bear book after all.) But I don't know if you want to consider the cost because they were free review copies. I didn't pay for them.