Q. Several patrons have come in wanting to donate books and magazines to our library. Most are not appropriate for our library collection, and even our Friends cannot accept all of these donations to sell. Do you have any other resources we can direct them to?
A. This is a variant on one of our frequent questions. People call or e-mail us regularly seeking to donate their books, and we sometimes get requests from small community libraries seeking donations in order to build a collection. The best we can do for a "switching station" is the ALA Library fact sheet, Sending Books to Needy Libraries: Book Donation Programs. This fact sheet is a list of resources for finding the various groups and organizations that accept book donations for distribution in the United States as well as in countries overseas.
You are right to consider your library's overall collection building plan when reviewing donations. The purchase price of a book--whether zero or substantially more--is just the first cost of adding a item to your collection, as there are processing time and costs, shelving time and costs, and the "opportunity cost," or space something not up to your usual standards may take from an item you might choose. From our Professional Tips wiki entry on Gifts, we've linked to some sources on gift acceptance policies. The wiki entry for Collection Evaluation (and Weeding) provides some guidance for assessing when materials are no longer fit for a library collection and how to manage discards.