Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How to donate books to your library

 You have some old books from the 1970s festering in some corner of your house. You thought you'd like to give them where they might be wanted and/or you figure you better do something with them quick before they liquify. You have heard your local library might take these books, but assume the whole donation thing would be far too complicated to manage without some sort of guide. 

This is that guide!

Just follow these four simple rules:

1. Libraries vary. Call your library and see if they want your books. We libraries still have phone numbers and are elated when you call us. And most of us take book donations. At my library you can just bring them in any time we're open. We will at minimum pretend to be delighted to receive you and your old books.

2. Simply pack up your books in manageably sized bags and boxes that you don't need back. Over-stacking them in bags that are falling apart will give us a unique opportunity to suffer together. Alternatively, you can put your books in bags and boxes and tell the person who you're giving them to that you need these bags and boxes back. This latter method is good if you are sort of an awful person.

3. Don't get all precious about your books. Just toss them in the box. Though we're happy to have them, none of them are terribly valuable. Except, wait, is this The Big Sleep? Holy mother of god, it's the first edition! I can't believe I am touching this! Thank you very, very much! I will never forget you! What you have done today here, well, my god, I am speechless!

4. Finally, always, always, make demands on us in inverse proportion to the quality and value of your donation. Donating a bunch of brand new books and movies we have long waiting lists for, maybe some beautiful art books to boot? Then you should insist that you need nothing, that we're the ones doing you a favor by putting them to good use. Donating mildewed and forgotten bestsellers of the 80s and 90s that appear to be infested with beetles? Insist that people come out to your car to carry them in. Demand a neat and thorough receipt. And be sure to complain later to the branch manager that we didn't seem thankful enough. 

We were thankful. We were merely afraid of losing control of our emotions.

Still confused? Call me at the library. You'd be surprised how long and at what level of detail I am willing to answer your questions. Especially if you're thinking of bringing us The Big Sleep. Wow.


  1. Another guideline: Let us know this is a donation. Don't put it in the book drop and expect us to guess correctly whether this is a donation or a precious book that somehow was gathered up with the books you are returning. If you MUST put it in the bookdrop, some sort of note that let's us know it's status is very nice. Better: bring it inside; you can get a receipt, if you wish, and we can show our gratitude, sincere or otherwise.

  2. I am so relieved to know I have donated correctly before. I vow never to awfully request my box or bag back!

  3. This comment is not about the above post. You have stumbled into the secret places, or found one from brave endeavor.

    Here I am traveling around in the ductwork of my blog. I have been thinking for a long time about all this comment space everywhere, vast and quiet and mostly untapped. Sometimes I feel a daily post is so formal, even the informal ones. I know it will be read. It flies out in email to people. It's monitored by dear, regular visitors. And then it is frozen into amber and is scattered into the comet trail of this blog. I write this in April, 2014. It is a place where I have just recently abandoned all marketing of my blog and am still unsteady with it. And it is also a place where I am writing a lot, pouring over nothing much happening on my blog, wondering what to do with this bare space where the marketing was.

    So I thought I might like to go even deeper in the opposite direction. I thought I might like to fill my blog in the quiet places and the hidden rooms. Just when I felt like. Just when I wanted to not even help you find me in the most perfunctory ways.

    I like to allude to magic in my blog, and to my blog as a theme park, a mystery castle, a mad chocolate factory. I like to think of it as something... else. And it all kind of came to me. I could open rooms here people will only find on the rarest chance, or through dedicated looking, and I could put furniture in them, hang a picture, and let no one ever come, or any number above that, and I could practice it all not mattering.

    Except, of course, in the way everything, terribly, relentlessly matters.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.