A library is an obvious recipient for giveaway books, so I trotted off to my local library in Larchmont, N.Y., to find out about their experiences.If you're more into adding books to your collection than into trying to reduce its size, the article also mentions a website that may be of some help. I haven't been to the site yet but it sounds like another good one.
Nancy Donovan, who has worked at the library 18 years, says she is quite familiar with the overly attached syndrome.
They can’t throw them away, so they give them to us even if they are old and moldy and mildewed,” she said. “And then we throw them in the trash.” I have no doubt that this is exactly what happens all the time when readers have such strong sentimental attachments to their books that they can't stand the thought of tossing even the worst ones into the trash, no matter how terrible their condition may be. Box them up, instead, and let the local library do your dirty work.
Ms. Donovan hastened to say that the library was happy to receive good books in good condition, but that a book “has to earn its keep.”
“It has to be current and in very good shape,” she said.
Larchmont is probably more a reading community than many other parts of the region, where more media, like DVDs and CDs, are checked out of libraries than books, Ms. Donovan said, but even so, the library can take only so much.
“We say we will take one container per household per week,” she said. And no cheating — you have to be able to carry the container and fit it through the door.
“We’re fairly brutal,” she said. As is the case with donations to most local libraries, some of the books are tossed, and many others are sold for 50 cents or a dollar to help finance the library.
However, Better World Books (www.betterworld.com) offers a different option. Started by some freshly minted Notre Dame graduates in 2002, it collects used books and textbooks from about 1,000 campuses and 700 libraries nationwide.Free postage is always a good thing.
As an individual, you can donate if you pay for shipping yourself; but you can buy anything off its Web site and shipping is free anywhere in the country.
“It’s like 1,000 sidewalk sales rolled into one,” said a co-founder, Xavier Helgesen. He estimates that his organization receives about 15,000 used books a day and sells about 5,000 daily.
Some of the unusable books are recycled, many of the textbooks are sent to universities in Africa and of all the books that are sold, a certain percentage of each sale — it varies but ranges around 15 percent — goes to nonprofit partners promoting global literacy.
Ms. Burger of Princeton Public Library says her library sends books to Better World. A neat option on the Better World Web site lets you type in your ZIP code to find out if your local library donates to the group. You can buy specifically from that collection and up to 35 percent of what you pay for those books goes back to that library.