For some, the hardest item to declutter is books. But one of the most common questions I get asked is, “Where can I donate my used books?”
It’s an interesting paradox when you think about it. But the struggle and the question are probably related. Books are an important part of our lives. When we decide it’s time to part with them, we want to know they are going to a nice home where they can continue to enrich and improve other people’s lives.
In order to provide a thoughtful and thorough answer to the question above, I’ve spent time researching the most current and up-to-date places to donate your lightly-used books.
Here’s a list of 20 places to donate used books:
1. The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is one of the world’s largest providers of social aid. Proceeds from their stores are used to fund Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where those in the grip of addiction find help, hope, and a second chance at life. Find a location near you.
2. Goodwill. Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that provides job training, employment placement services, and other community-based programs for people who have barriers preventing them from otherwise obtaining a job. They are often conveniently located.
3. Local Libraries. As with most places on this list, it is wise and courteous to call in advance for specifics on current needs. Many local libraries do not have the space or time to sort through large collections of books. Check to see if they are looking for current titles, or organizing a community book sale in the near future.
4. Vietnam Veterans of America. VVA is a non-profit organization committed to serving the needs of veterans. It is funded without any contribution from any branch of government. Check out their convenient Pickup service for availability in your area.
5. Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Proceeds from ReStores are used to help build strength, stability, self-reliance, and shelter in local communities and around the world. Check out their website for locations near you.
6. Other Local Charities. Donation Town connects donors with charities all over the country that offer free donation pick up service. Use their website to locate local charities willing to come pick up your gently used book donation.
7. Local Theaters. If your books are historical in nature, check with your local theater and/or museum. Books may be used as props during performances or as display exhibits in local museums.
8. Retirement Homes. As with other places offered on this list, be sure to call and inquire about current level of need to ensure that your donation is not a burden.
9. Kids Need to Read. Kids Need to Read works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children. They accept “like new” children’s books that are not scribbled upon or visibly damaged.
10. Reader to Reader. Reader to Reader, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding literacy and learning opportunities for the nation’s most chronically underserved and vulnerable communities, including inner-city schools, Native American reservations, and poor rural towns. Find a donation program near you.
11. African Library Project. ALP is dedicated to creating African libraries by organizing the shipment of gently-used books through book drives in the United States. You can find a local book drive or better yet, organize your own.
12. Books for Africa. Books for Africa collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to students of all ages in Africa with the goal of ending the book famine in Africa.
13. Books Through Bars. Books Through Bars works to provide quality reading material to prisoners in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
14. Prison Book Programs. Prison Book Program is a grassroots organization that exists for one purpose—to send free books to prisoners. In addition to the work they do, they also keep a current list of local organizations (in your area) doing the same thing. Find their list here.
15. Books for Soldiers / Operation Paperback. Books for Soldiers / Operation Paperback collects gently-used books and sends them to American troops overseas, as well as veterans and military families here at home. To begin the shipment process, sign up here.
17. Bookmooch. If you are looking to receive books back in exchange for your donation, try Bookmooch, a community for exchanging used books.
18. Re-book It. (Los Angeles). Re-Book It is a free community pick-up service provided by The Last Bookstore to ensure that no books end up in landfills, but instead find new homes in the hands of readers.
19. Big Hearted Books. (New England). Big Hearted Books & Clothing Inc. is a socially conscious, for-profit, book and textile reuse company whose mission is to keep books, media, clothing, and other reusable items out of landfills.
20. Freecycle. Freecycle is a free, local online bulletin board dedicated to reusing goods. Create an account, post a brief description of the books you are looking to donate, and see if anyone local is interested in taking them.
Here are a few other places doing cool stuff with books. They are not accepting book donations at this time—but if you want to financially support reading programs, here are a couple to look into: United Through Reading and Reading Education Assistance Dogs.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, please be courteous and thoughtful with your book donations. Whenever possible, call ahead to be sure your book donation is needed—citing specific genres when possible. Keep in mind that quality, gently-used books will always be most appreciated. And consider sorting your books prior to donating.
Be a blessing, not a burden.