Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Better than burning books

by Barbara D'Amato

We’ve all read recently about Tom Wayne, who runs a used book store and wanted to give some books to libraries and thrift shops. None would take them, so he held a book-burning. For this he was roundly criticized.

But I can sympathize. Shortly after Katrina hit, and we were all saddened by the destruction of libraries or the water damage to books in libraries, I started hearing about places we could send books. Every time I checked, though, they wanted money, not books. I’m happy to send money to help rebuild a library, but I still have a lot of books I could give away. Good books, read just once.

Since then, I’ve kept an eye out for places to send books. It’s not as easy as I thought, and not as easy as it should be. Don’t we all have books we are finished with that could be a delight to somebody else?

I’ve discovered a few things:

Donating to libraries in general is difficult. Many libraries say that it costs more to catalog and shelve a book than it’s worth. You have to take it pretty much library by library. Some are delighted to have donations, but you may see your books later on the tables at their annual book sale fund-raiser. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.

You can donate books to prisons. Call and ask. But they don’t take hard covers. Prisoners apparently can make weapons out of hardcover books. [The pen is mightier --?]

Many retirement homes are really happy to get books. Call first.

Some hospitals, especially long-term care hospitals, will take them.

Sending to men and women in the military is tricky. Most people I talked with said to contact your local VFW for the best way.

I’m still having trouble sending books to New Orleans libraries. Thanks to a DorothyL contact, I have found one person in the area who is collecting books for a library that is being rebuilt. You can send books to her at:
Jeannie Ripoll
325 Ferguson Ave.
Long Beach MS 39560

The San Diego library is helped the following person, who sorts books for the Friends of The Library and sends duplicates to the penal system. She is:
Lynn Dielman
4150 41st St. #10
San Diego CA 92105

But this shouldn’t be so difficult. Somebody else help out here. What organizations would be glad to receive books in good condition, free?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to be the one to tell you about www.open-books.org (can't make a live link,) Chicago's first not-profit used book store to benefit literacy. Drop off your books at 1242 S. State or use the site to ask them to come pick up. They picked up 12 boxes from me. It's a win/win, clean shelves for literacy. Pass the word.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Thank you!

The Home Office said...

I sympathize completely. It's not just books. I tried to make several donations when I moved last year, and charities who make regular appeals for contributions are quite fussy about the form in which they'll accept help. Several wouldn't come to my town to pick up some furniture, although they were happy to come to towns on either side of me. (No, I didn;t move out of the Taylor projects, or West Baltimore.)

It is a puzzlement.

Stein said...

Also, there's a Chicago-based Books to Women in Prison project:
http://www.chicagobwp.org/

Sara N Paretsky said...

stein, anonymous, thanks for these good tips

Barb, thanks for the post

Sara

Maryann Mercer said...

Down my way, you can drop books off at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. They sell them for pennies, but at least someone else gets to read them. I don't clean out my shelves that often. Most of what I buy, I keep...to the dismay of my husband. Nice to know about the MS library thing though. I might just send a letter. Thanks for the heads-up, Barb!

Claire said...

Great tips on donating books. I've got a box that I'd like to get rid of at the moment. Not enough room!

Michael Dymmoch said...

The Brown Elephant takes books.

773-549-5943

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