Earlier this year, I wrote a post about how to unhaul books. I discussed some general tips on how to declutter your book collection, and also made a section about what to do with the books you’re getting rid of. Selling them or trading them in at your local second hand bookstore is an obvious choice, but if you have a lot of books to unhaul, or books that are not worth the hassle of selling them, donating is a good alternative. After all, your books will be getting a second life!
A while ago, I saw a post on Instagram by Bealeest, who donated books to a thrift store and found out that these books were trashed because (apparently) nobody wanted them. Now, before we all get our pitchforks, I think we do need to realize that, with all the decluttering trends the last couple of years, thrift stores have been pretty much swarmed with a large amount of stuff. Space is limited, and something that no one picks up is just taking up space. As a result, some of the stuff we donate is trashed. Not just in my country, The Netherlands, but in other countries as well. And, unfortunately, this also includes books.
This got me thinking about whether there were better, more responsible ways to donate books. The heartbreak some of us booklovers must feel at the thought of books carelessly trashed aside, it’s very wasteful and not great for the environment. Furthermore, our decluttered items shouldn’t become someone else’s problem to deal with.
The good news is: there are definitely other options! So here’s a list. I’m well aware that options will vary depending on your country, but I hope these tips will inspire you!
Friends, family, neighbors & coworkers
The easiest option is also the one that’s the closest! If you know readers, you could simply ask them if they’re interested in one or several of your books. If you know several people, perhaps you can also change it into a fun social activity, like a book exchange.
There might be some groups on Facebook, or other social media, where you can put up stuff (including books) for donation. Try to see if there’s one around your area! Some might be related to only books, some might include all sorts of things.
Free little libraries
Over the past years, a lot of free little libraries have sprung up. Places vary from someone’s front yard, public areas (such as train stations, supermarkets, and community centers), and even cafeterias at some people’s work places. They’re a great way to exchange books! The idea is that you take a book and place one back in exchange, but I’m pretty sure there’s no rule in bringing more than one book. It’s also a fun way to discover some gems. Do look around in your area/local community to see where they are.
Depending on the books you’re trying to donate, schools might be a good option. Lots of schools have (small) libraries, and more often than not, they don’t have the budget to buy a lot of books. Children’s books are obviously a good choice for primary schools, but some high schools/secondary schools might be happy with YA and classics. I’d ask before arriving with your box of books on the doorstep, though.
It’s probably not the first place you’ll think of when trying to find a new home for your books, but prisons usually have libraries! Again, give them a call beforehand, but they might be more than happy to take your books.
Refugee Centers/women’s shelters
Depending on the titles and genres you’re trying to donate; some refugee centers are also looking for books. There are of course refugee centers for immigrants, but you could also consider women’s shelters. There are kids in both who might be missing out on books, and I’m sure adults might be interested too.
There are various charities that take book donations, and either make sure they get to those in need, or sell them and use the proceeds to fund their charity. There might be more charities who would be happy to take your books than you think! It will take up too much space to list them, and they’ll vary for each country, but Google is your friend!
Some libraries take donations, depending on the titles and their condition. Like schools, charities, and refugee centers, they don’t have a lot of budget to buy books, so they might be grateful for some of the titles you’re bringing in.
Despite the example mentioned earlier, some thrift stores might still be happy to get books. I think the wisest course of action is to ask before donating your books, otherwise, they might get trashed.
I’m sure there are some very useful options that I’ve missed. Feel free to share them in the comments!