Blogging about my experience with library donations…
Yesterday I was dropping off some books for donation and happened to notice one of their book sales actually going on so I checked it out. I walked into a room with rows and rows of books and my heart sank. Paperbacks went for $.25, hardbacks…
Just a few different things to consider:
1. Some libraries buy multiple copies of bestsellers so patrons don’t sit on a wait list for months to read that new James Patterson. Eventually, the list dies down and that shelf space could go to new materials. This means the books have to be pulled!
2. Some libraries sell their discarded books at sales. This is great for community members, as well as organizations that need resources at a low price. Some teachers just don’t have the funds to collect books for their classrooms and they can get a bunch for a low price at these sales.
3. Some libraries throw out their discards. This might seem scary, but there are policies being followed. Books that are moldy need to go in the dumpster! They can spread to other books and ruin them. Other books might look brand new, like travel guides, but no one is going to benefit from a 2006 travel guide to Cancun. Most of the information will be inaccurate. Other books might look brand new because no one has ever checked them out! Librarians check stats to see how often the book has gone out. A book that has circulated only once in 10 years could be hogging valuable shelf space for a better used book, or space that might go to an extra computer for community members to use!
4. Some libraries send their books to organizations like Better World Books, where they can resell decent quality books and use some of the profits to donate books to literacy programs. However, sending books out-of-house to companies or charities requires extra staff time and sometimes money.
The bottom line is it varies from library to library, and the librarians are following a plan. I PROMISE. Even if you see books in a dumpster, lots of thought has gone into that decision. They’re doing this to benefit the people who use the library. I’m sure your library would be happy to explain their weeding policy to you!
This is an excellent explanation. Also, some libraries will donate books to shelters and daycare centers that can’t necessarily afford to buy books for their clients.
But I also want to address your concern about not being able to accept $.50 as the book’s worth. It isn’t, and that’s not what libraries are proposing. Books are expensive, and libraries pay a hefty amount in book costs every year. The author and their publishers and whoever else is in that line of pay get their fair share (arguably).
The point of these booksales isn’t to necessarily sell the books for what they’re worth. It is to 1. Get the extra books off the shelf to make space for new, free-to-the-public books, 2. Rake in a few extra donations for the library, and 3. To allow people to buy books and take them home permanently, that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to buy. And to me, these points are far more important than the books supposed “worth.” This allows them to have a worth that exceeds monetary value. Like you mentioned, that child you saw wanting that book that you so loved, may not have been able to afford it from Barnes and Noble, and would have missed out on experiencing it like you did. This is what defines the book’s worth, the experiences and love that it can provide, not the $20 price sticker plastered on the front cover. It is arguably more important to simply read the book than to prove that you paid full price for it.
Like Neil Gaiman said, “Don’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing, or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books, and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…”
Reblogging because several intelligent people weighed in on this topic and for any of my followers that were also curious like me, read above.
Thank you to all of you who have added your knowledge on the way library donations and book sales work. While some parts of this process still make me a bit sad, I do have a better understanding of the how’s and why’s now and I appreciate you all taking the time to educate me on this process.