Spring is here and many of us think about cleaning out all the clutter we have accumulated over the years. Donating books to your local library is a wonderful thing, but you may not be aware that there are guidelines to what we can feasibly use. This post will outline some helpful tips on knowing what to give to your library, what to send elsewhere, and what to recycle.
1. Look at the condition of the item you are donating. If it is dirty, moldy, has water damage, is missing pages or a cover, has places cut out of it, or it’s warped beyond repair, please DO NOT donate these to anyone. They are either health hazards (moldy, water damaged, some types of dirt) or are not in any condition to be put out for other people to use. These can be recycled depending on the material. There is no need to feel guilty about disposing of materials that are in such poor shape. Apply these guidelines to non-printed materials as well, and consider whether your library actually circulates the item. If they don’t have VHS or cassette tapes on their shelves, they probably won’t want yours.
2. Unless your library has requested them for programming purposes, we have no need for, nor place for, nor way to archive, old magazines in general. Sometimes these can be given to daycares or schools for crafts, but ask before dropping them off. An exception is if you have a newspaper or magazine issue with historic significance. Ask your library or university or museum if they want it. For most periodicals, recycle them as you would newspapers. The same goes for used workbooks, activity guides, and coloring books.
3. Timing is everything. If your item is informative in nature (encyclopedias, course ware, software) and it’s out of date enough that you are letting go of it, your library probably can’t use it either.
What does that leave? A lot! Fiction in good condition. Children’s books in good condition. Materials covering local history. Old volumes in reasonable shape. Some non-fiction. Cookbooks! As for the rest? Talk to yours truly about co-sponsoring an art-book craft project for all ages. Check Pinterest for ideas. Books have many lives in them. It’s all a matter of finding what that life may be and letting it go to the right place.