Why Is It So Hard To Donate Books to the New York Public Library?

From the New York Daily News: Interesting article based on the reporter's attempts to give a bagful of books and DVDs on African-American themes to a library on 125th Street in NYC.

Maybe someone wants to comment in response to the article in the NY Daily News?


Donations take up a tremendous amount of staff time. Items need to be searched in the catalog, checked for condition, edition, publisher duplicates. The shelf then needs to be checked. Then it needs to go to be cataloged. Then it needs to be labeled. Then it needs to be shelved. This takes up a lot of staff time. If this donation is a valuable addition to the collection, it's absolutely worth it. Oftentimes though, people give truckloads at a time for donation and a lot of duplicates and poor quality copies need to be sorted through to get that 1 "gem." I can absolutely sympathize with a library the size of NYPL in why they do not accept donations.

Because people would rather take their trash to the library than throw away a book. I wish we didn't accept donations, because they are really more trouble than they are worse.

I was able to Google the NYPL's donation policy in 5 seconds. There's also a phone number she could've called. It's not that it's so hard to donate, it's that she didn't RTFM, as it were....

I hope some of you anons also commented on the Daily News website in response to the article.

I suspected that this would be the opinion of many librarians (don't bring me your free books Argentina), and I think the author would appreciate hearing the opinions of actual librarians and library staff.

If the branch library people didn't explain that the donations needed to go to the central location, that's a library failure. If they did, and the blogger (not necc. reporter--that was a blog post, not a news story) chose not to hear them, it's more complicated.

I know that our library (Livermore, not New York, and a whole lot smaller) not only accepts donations but has an outdoor "book return" for them. Then again, our library has both an active Friends book and a full-time used bookstore operated by the Friends; I assume (but don't know) that the Friends select out items that the library might actually want. I guess I'm a little surprised by the "pfeh! donations!" comments here...anonymous, of course.

Libraries cannot take every extra book that people have. As a community service libraries should act as places that take books and then have arrangement with paper recyclers.

In my town if I need to get rid of a compact fluorescent light bulb I can take it to my library. They should take books also. I don't think they should have to enter the books into the collection. They just need to get them into a book recycling bin so the books can be pulped and made into other paper products.

You can take books to thrift stores and to used book stores but when they get overwhelmed they send many of these to landfills.

Take a look at these dumpsters belonging to 1/2 Price books:

1/2 Price will seemingly buy any pile of books. They have figured out that people get mad if you do not buy all their precious books so they make an offer for the pile. The offer you get is really paying for the one good book in the bunch. The rest of the books go to the landfill.

I completely understand that libraries cannot deal with all donations as donations but why not help out and have some connections so that books can at least be recycled?

Many libraries have no money to buy books at all right now. There are more efficient ways to handle donations than many people realize. Telling people you don't have any money to buy books then immediately afterwards saying we can't take your donations is the kind of statement that gets in the local paper.

It is the same kind of thing as filling a dumpster in front of a library with discarded books or old magazines.

Just randomly accepting donations is a very bad idea. A small amount go into the collection, then the rest goes to the Friends of the Library.

Donations are mostly handled by the Friends of the Library where they can sort them and put them in the book sale. This is a way to generate Goodwill for the library. It is not a way to make much money. People like book sales, cake and coffee. Quite a few of the Friends of the Library like going through the donations. Some libraries run book sales monthly.

It is comforting to people and makes the community more likely to vote for your budget when it comes time if you take their donations. They feel good about it.

Better World Books takes donations of certain books. They will take bulk donations of books as well. It is a good way to let go of discards and donations of books. I think Better World Books has been very good as both a paper recycler and a way to let go of books.

Better World Books sell the donations online. Libraries should be looking their books up online and selling the good books. If the library does not have the manpower they should team up with a local bookselller. Better World books pays their executives massive salaries. They take donations from libraries, sell the valuable books online, and pulp the rest. Libraries should sell the valuable books themselves.

I actually don't mind getting donations - some of the books, especially fiction paperbacks or now-out-of-print hardcovers that have been donated have ended up in the collection because our copy was lost or in bad condition.

However, we also have people donating books that smell, have pages missing, ripped pages, are in terrible condition, etc. We mostly throw these in the recycling bin or the trash can because they are of no use to us and would not get sold at our book sale. I have no idea why people think we would want books/magazines that look and smell like garbage.

We get a lot of donations, and while we get some really good ones, we also get some really bad ones. Personally, I mostly like the fact that we take donations.

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