I regularly go through my bookshelves to find titles to donate. If I have no plans to reread a book, it makes sense for me to pass it onto someone who will enjoy it, rather than keep it on a shelf just because. But there are dozens of places to donate books, including, but not limited to, schools, libraries, literacy programs, women’s shelters, Little Free Libraries, and book swaps. So how does a reader decide the best place to donate their volumes?
Perhaps one of the most common reasons people choose to donate books is how easy it is to do so. Convenience and cost both come into play here. For example, donating to places like the local library is fairly easy for many readers because they already go to the library and do not need to make a special trip to drop off books. Dropping off books at a library (or a school, Little Free Library, book swap, etc.) is also free. In contrast, shipping books elsewhere could quickly result in large bills, especially if a person regularly donates many volumes. For this reason, some readers who may want to donate books to charities that are not local may themselves unable to do so.
When I donate books, I do take convenience and cost into account, but I also try to consider how my donation could have the biggest impact. A big impact may mean different things to different people. For me, this often means giving books to a place where the most people can benefit and where those most in need are most likely to benefit. For this reason, I like to donate to the library specifically because the books that go onto their shelves can potentially be read by many people, many of them living in disadvantaged neighborhoods. If the library sells my donations, they can use the money to buy more materials for their patrons.
Sometimes, however, I like to see a more immediate impact with my donations. In the past, I have donated books to classroom libraries because I had heard that teachers were searching for specific titles for their students. I liked to know that my donations were actually wanted and would actually be read and appreciated. It can be nice to have confirmation that a donation was received well, rather than simply donating and hoping for the best.
There are many places to donate books and people generally have their own opinions about the “best” way to distribute books. What works for one person, however, may not work for another. And people will have different values they prioritize when deciding what to do with their books. I tend to value convenience, cost, and the ability to reach the largest number of people. How do you decide where to donate your books?