Did you know we use Better World Books as a way of discarding some of our used books and donations? It’s a fabulous service that offers FREE shipping, and our books go to libraries and literacy projects that need them.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
While we’d love to be able to keep all of our books, eventually, some books stop going off the shelves, or lose their appeal to readers. Similarly, when people donate their used books to the library, if we already have copies and can’t use the books for our sale table, we’ll donate these as well. All we have to do is contact Better World Books when we have several boxes of books packaged up, and they’ll take care of the rest. They pick up our boxes for free, and use the books to benefit literacy programs, other libraries, and help us to keep recycling great books.
THIS SOUNDS EASY.
It is…and it isn’t. It takes us a lot of staffing hours to discard older books, and work through a big backlog of donations. (Did you know that we can often get hundreds of books donated each week? That’s a lot of staff time to go through selections, and a lot of space to keep the books people bring in. That’s why we’re on a book donation hold right now.)
Then, a staff member has to organize the books to make sure they are on the “desired” list for Better World Books. That doesn’t mean specific titles, but rather, specific types of books and topics that they know they need. Once they have been sorted, the books have to be packaged into boxes and stored until the shipping date.
WHY DON’T YOU KEEP ALL OF YOUR OLD BOOKS? OR WHY NOT SELL THEM YOURSELVES?
We keep as many books for our library as we can. That means doing regular inventory or weeding to see what is being used, and what might need some TLC (spine repair, etc.). If a book is on a topic we feel we might need in the future, even if it isn’t a well-circulated book, we’ll keep it in our catalog and on the shelves. But as we must add new books to the collection every year, and our library space can’t expand, it means we must discard older books, or ones that have not circulated much in the past five years.
It would be great to be able to sell everything donated or discarded ourselves, but we have limited space on our sale table. And let’s face it, not everything will sell. That book about endangered fish in South America? While it might have been great for projects a number of years ago, there are not many people in Carleton Place walking in off the street in search of just such a book. We must use our space in the library just as wisely as you use your space at home...which is why we know so many of you like to donate your used books. So, we’re forced to make decisions about what books we’ll keep to sell, what books we’ll send to Better World Books, and what books might have to be discarded permanently. It’s a tough decision, but one that most libraries face at some point.
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH ALL OF OUR OLD BOOKS?
If you live in the US, Better World Books has drop-off boxes where YOU can donate your used books in good condition. If you have a large number of books to donate, they have a special contact to make arrangements. In Canada, you’ll need to contact them as well, but they make the process easy. Just go to the site, and click on “donate”.
There are often many local options as well: used book stores, thrift shops, some schools, and community projects that will take used books in good condition. Contact them first before dropping off a stack of books, though. Every place has their own requirements.