Saturday, May 18, 2019

The value of library book donations

My oldest library friend, who long ago departed for other branches, sent word of a particularly unappealing bag of donated books he received. It included old High School textbooks, pamphlets in Spanish, half-used coloring and activity books, and novels missing whole sections and sometimes with their pages mysteriously glued together. It sounds like a bad batch, but by no means of a standard unfamiliar to me.

Naturally the patron wanted a receipt, doing their part to observe the age-old rule: The desire for a receipt and gratitude will be in inverse proportion to the quality of the materials.

Sometimes, in my own experiences, these wretched library donaters will ask me about the value of their books. They wonder how much they might be able to claim on their taxes. I'm faultlessly polite about it, knowing them to be a volatile bunch, but I can always tell that whatever I say to them is bad news for their dreams of avarice. "We sell the paperbacks for 50 cents, the hardcovers for a dollar, so..."

Add it up and they'll probably need to donate several thousand more boxes to have a real impact on their taxes. Even then, deep down, it would probably be fraud.

But I do like to be helpful on this score, and I wouldn't mind a little "estimated value" line on our receipt forms. 

It might, quite fairly, like with that bag mentioned above, look something like this:


Library Donation Receipt

Hardcovers: 7

Paperbacks: 14

Recyclable Paper things: 36

DVDs:  0

CDs:  2

Total Estimated Value:  Minus $4.20


I would sign such a document proudly.

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