If you're like me, you know there's nothing quite like cracking open a book. For decades us bookworms have amassed impressive collections of books to expand our small slice of the world.
However, it's easy to get overwhelmed with books. I used to have an entire room in my house just for my books. It was out of control. If you need to declutter your beloved tomes, consider donating them. You'll free up precious shelf space while preventing landfill waste. As an added bonus, donations are tax-deductible and let others enjoy the books.
Here's where you can donate your used books.
The repository of all things books! Local libraries love receiving donations. In my experience, they tend to prefer more recent titles that are in good condition. I mean, hey, the books have to make it through dozens of hands. If your books are new and in great condition, look into donating them through either the library or its Friends of the Library club.
Thrift store or Goodwill
I donate just about everything to my local Goodwill. They'll gladly accept books in nearly any kind of condition or age. As a crafter, I actually like to buy old books at the thrift store for 50 cents apiece. They'll most definitely find a home for your 1970s encyclopedia set, so why hang onto it?
Books Through Bars
Books Through Bars is a nonprofit that believes education is the key to combating the negative effects of incarceration. What better way to stay educated than to read boatloads of books? Help inmates better adjust to life after their time in prison with your secondhand reads.
Local school or university
Just like libraries, schools and universities are often looking for new material for their students. Schools are strapped for cash to buy new titles, so book donations are a great way to keep students reading with new material. Call your local school or university library to ask if they accept book donations.
Hospitals are boring, cold places. Books are a wonderful escape from health problems, pain, and the general discomfort of hospitals. Pediatric hospitals in particular have a need for children's books to keep their pint-sized patients comfortable. If you feel like being a real superhero, see if your hospital allows volunteers to read to patients. Kids love storytime, and even adults can appreciate a few magical chapters from Harry Potter.
Did you know that women's shelters are hungry for books? These shelters take in women and their children fleeing abuse. Women's shelters give a safe space for women and their children to learn to live again. Books are a welcome distraction and affordable source of entertainment. Most women's shelters accept both books for adults as well as books for the kiddos.
Paper Retriever is a family-operated recycling company with multiple locations across the U.S. What's neat about this company is that they run a fundraising program for local charities and organizations. They drop off their signature green and yellow bins, which collect people's unwanted magazines, books, catalogs, papers, and notebooks. Each ton of recycled waste equals money in the pockets of your local organization.
For example, I donate all of my leftover magazines to Paper Retriever, which benefits our local public schools.
This is a good option if your books aren't in great condition and you'd like to have them recycled for a good cause.
Operation Paperback is a great way to give your books a new life in the hands of America's finest – our troops. Since 1999 this nonprofit has given 2.2 million books to troops in need for a good read. Operation Paperback can only accept gently used books (only the best for our troops, after all), so if your books are in decent condition, they want ‘em. Give a helping hand to overseas troops with the gift of a little entertainment from home.
Local Literacy Programs
Here's the thing about reading: the more you do it, the better you become at it. Whether it's an elementary school or an adult learning center, literacy programs help people of all ages. Few people want to read the same book over and over; why not donate your unwanted books to folks who would love to work on their reading skills? To find literacy programs in your area, check with your community college, elementary schools, or other adult learning programs.
Little Free Library
This is an adorable trend sweeping across the globe. People build mailbox-like structures, called Book Sheds, that hold 5 – 20 books. These little libraries pop up across neighborhoods and people can take and return books as they please. The Little Free Library usually caters to children's books, but some also include adult titles. The Little Free Library operates on an honors system and brings reading to everyone in a convenient, accessible way.
Just like a blood bank, book banks collect books and distribute them to people in need. These charities give books to kids who don't have books to read at home, encouraging them to develop a lifelong love for reading. My local book bank lets community members host book drives and fundraising events benefiting the book bank. Google around to find your local book bank and see how you can help!
United Through Reading
United Through Reading is a cause that's near and dear to my heart. This nonprofit connects soldiers with their families during deployment. My dad served in the Army for the majority of my childhood, so I missed out on a lot of moments with him, like bedtime stories. United Through Reading gives military families the opportunity to share bedtime stories without those annoying time zone differences. This charity records military parents reading children's stories and plays the recordings for the kiddos. Needless to say, United Through Reading needs plenty of children's books to keep the little ones entertained with riveting new tales.
I'm a book lover and most of the shelves in my home are filled with them. But it doesn't do anyone much good for me to hoard these in my home for years without reading them. If you're looking to declutter while doing the world some good, check out these creative ways to donate your used books.