8 Places to Donate Your Gently Used Books

Places to Donate Used Books

Looking to declutter your bookshelves and make room for some new arrivals? If you don’t want to do a giveaway on your blog or social media, consider donating some of your books to readers in need.

These suggestions are a bit US-focused because that’s what we’re familiar with at Pages Unbound, but if you have recommendations for donating books in other countries, please let us know in the comments!

(And, remember, most of these places are looking for newish books in reasonable conditions. If you donate a paperback with the cover ripped off, a hardcover growing mold, a set of encyclopedias, or your 20-year old collection of National Geographic, these things are probably just going to end up recycled or in the trash. Donate the type of book you would be interested in acquiring!)

Your Local Library

Libraries often accept book donations for use in their book sales or even as prizes for summer reading or other programs. You can likely also donate ARCs here. If the library decides they have too many books, they’re in horrible condition, or they’re just not selling at the book sales, they may recycle the books or donate them somewhere else themselves. Check with your local library for their policies.

A Little Free Library

Anyone around the world is welcome to build their own Little Free Library (though you should look into your local zoning ordinances before erecting something permanent in your yard). If you don’t have your own, you can check the Little Free Library website to find one close to you where you can leave your books and maybe pick up some new ones.

A Local School

If you know any teachers or school librarians, check if they’re interested in acquiring any classics or children’s books for their class or school libraries. If you don’t have personal connections, you can also try emailing or calling the school directly to inquire if they accept book donations.

Your College or University

Many colleges have a shelf or table somewhere on campus, frequently run by the English department or library, where students and faculty can leave free books for others to take and enjoy. Often this means people’s assigned reading gets donated, but there’s nothing stopping you from donating from your personal library.

Prisons, Women’s Shelters, and Homeless Shelters

Many of these places are often on the lookout for donated books in decent condition. However, they may also have specific books they want to acquire and may not take random donations. Check with your local organizations to see what types of books they may want.

Hospitals and Nursing Homes

Hospitals and nursing homes may also be looking for books for their patients and residents to read. You can call up the ones in your area to see if they are accepting donations.

The Salvation Army/Goodwill/Local Thrift Stores

Donating to these places can help make books more affordable to local citizens. Check the organizations’ websites for locations and policies.

Other Options

There are also organizations where you can ship your books to benefit various causes. Check out Read Brightly’s list here, and, of course, always research a charity before donating to it.

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25 thoughts on “8 Places to Donate Your Gently Used Books

    • Krysta says:

      Your workplace has a library?! That’s so cool! I have worked at a place where they had what was basically a little free library, though they didn’t call it that.

      Like

    • Krysta says:

      I just take mine to the library because I’m always going there anyway…. But I think that the real point is to pass on books and share the book love, no matter where you donate to!

      Liked by 1 person

      • alilovesbooks says:

        I think I always assumed the library wouldn’t take them. I’ve heard a few stories in the past about people being turned away. I however seem to have lost a book I got from the library so I’m hoping they’ll accept a replacement copy (or not notice that I’m returning a paperback and not a hardback) 🙂

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        • Briana says:

          It probably depends on the library. Most of the ones I’ve encountered have book sales a few times a year, so they like the donations. But I guess if a particularly library doesn’t have book sales, or if they just have too many books and don’t want more to sell, they wouldn’t take them. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

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        • Krysta says:

          I think it depends on the library. Some won’t take certain items like VHS’s or outdated textbooks. Others just have drop boxes and you throw the stuff in and they sort through it later. My most scarring experience was a library where they looked positively annoyed I’d even asked if they take donations. (They do. And they took mine. But they made me feel like they were going out of their way to do me a great favor. I donated my next pile of books to someone else.)

          Some libraries will accept replacement copies if you ask. It’s worth a try because it’s probably cheaper that way!

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  1. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Ah best post ever! As a serial donator/used books connoisseur, I absolutely agree with this!! My personal preference is to donate them to a charity shop, cos they’re everywhere, and I’ve used them so many times it’s just the best form of recycling I can think of. But I absolutely love some of the places to donate to on this list and think it would be so brilliant to donate more widely 😀

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    • Briana says:

      The nice thing about charity shops over libraries, I think, is that they’re always accessible. I’ve seen one public library that has a dedicated book sale room that’s open all the time, but at most other ones you have to wait several months until the next book sale to buy books! And then there’s a mob trying to get in first to get the “best” books. It’s intense. :p

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Britt says:

    These are such great ideas. I go to university in the UK (I’m from Estonia) and often can’t bring back the books I’ve bought so I’ve been giving them to vintage stores but this has really inspired me to look into ways I could donate them to charity. I often see homeless people sat around reading in Oxford and I’ve considered giving my used books to them sometimes (but somehow I’m always too shy to go through with it).

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I’ve seen several homeless people reading around my town as well. I haven’t talked to them either, so I’m not sure where they get the books, or even really what types of books they like to read.

      Like

  3. Paula Vince says:

    We have similar options in Australia, including caravan park libraries, for tourists to pick up. It’s great to pick up a pre-loved book that’s still in good condition.

    Like

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