Sending Books to Needy Libraries: Book Donation Programs
ALA Library Fact Sheet 12
Please be aware that the American Library Association does not accept or distribute donations of books or any other materials. This page provides information on some of the groups and organizations that do handle book donations - including donations of used books.
There is also information below for libraries on organizations and companies that will accept discards from the collection.
A longer list, continuously updated by ALA Library staff, of the groups and organizations that handle book donations, for distribution within or outside the United States, appears at:
Do not hesitate to contact any of these groups directly to find out their needs and procedures, drop-off points and shipping addresses.
Groups and organizations are named for informational purposes only.
* If you actually need book donations, you may be eligible to apply for donations from the groups named. Contact the groups directly for application information and eligibility criteria.
Book Donations in the United States
Most public libraries in the United States accept gift books with the proviso that the library is free to decide whether to keep the book in the library's collection, put it in a book sale to raise funds for the library, or discard it. Persons seeking to donate books to libraries are encouraged to contact their local library and ask about donating books to it.
We also suggest contacting your state library. Your local public library or an academic library in your area can supply you with the address and telephone number for your state library (often a toll-free call for in-state residents). Or see the State Programs: State Libraries web page compiled by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the federal office for libraries and museums in the United States.
There are private groups that distribute book donations - but only distribute new books; donations of used books are not accepted - within the United States, including the following:
Books for Kids (formerly known as Books for Kids Foundation; formerly at booksforkidsfoundation.org)
Books for Kids in New York creates and furnishes libraries within existing children's centers; see the list of libraries helped by Books for Kids. As stated on its web site: We enable children who may not have access to a public library to discover the world of books. We purchase and donate library bound books to create an actual lending program to familiarize children with standard practices. Each library is created with an age-appropriate collection which includes the core group of standard titles recommended by the Department of Education and early childhood literacy experts. Books are carefully selected to reflect the backgrounds and life experiences of the children in that community. Libraries include child friendly chairs and tables, colorful carpets, listening centers, puppets, motivational posters and more. These unique environments grant the opportunity to an early learning process that will lay the groundwork for their future success. Our libraries and programs encourage children to explore, think, discover, and learn. Write to e-mail address email@example.com for further details to donate new books or provide funds for new books or to apply for a library or apply for books.
The Libri Foundation
As explained on its web site, the Libri Foundation is a nationwide non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in Eugene, OR, which donates new, quality, hardcover children's books to small, rural public libraries in the United States through its BOOKS FOR CHILDREN program. Please address all correspondence to Ms. Barbara J. McKillip, President, to e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. Libri supplies various online financial giving opportunities and also maintains the Libri Foundation's Wishlist on Amazon.com for its library recipients.
For publishers only:
First Book National Book Bank
1319 F Street, NW; Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1155
Phone: 1-866-READ-NOW (1-866-732-3669)
First Book Help Page with Contact Information; email: email@example.com
Book Donations to Countries Overseas
There are several organizations that distribute books to other countries. Many of these organizations distribute books overseas at no cost to the donating person or library other than shipping costs to the U.S. facility.
- See the list of international book donation organizations, some
country-specific, compiled by ALA's International Relations Office (IRO <http://www.ala.org/iro>),
International Donation and Shipment of Books
- For an extensive, annotated list of organizations that coordinate international country-specific book donations, specifying types of books and periodicals needed, see:
International Donations Programs page by University at Buffalo Libraries
For publishers only:
Please first see the web page Donate Books to Support Libraries from United for Libraries, a division of ALA:
If you have books to donate, first contact your local public library. Some libraries have donation guidelines posted on their website, others you will need to contact by phone. Your local library can provide acceptable donation guidelines.
If your library is not currently accepting donations and you are willing to pay shipping, we invite you to donate to our non-profit organization. In partnership with United for Libraries (formerly ALTAFF), Better World Books is accepting pre-paid book donation shipments from the general public. Saleable donations will be made available for sale on more than 17 online marketplaces. Proceeds from the sale benefit United for Libraries/ALTAFF. Non-saleable items will be made available to a nonprofit literacy partner or recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.
Remember, not all books have a resale value on the internet; therefore, we encourage you to follow our guidelines under Easy to Sell (please ship) and Difficult to Sell (please do not ship).
If you are looking to donate a set of encyclopedia that is older than ten-years-old, contact Book Rescue of SCARCE, School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking specifically to donate back issues of National Geographic, contact either:
Organizations that are open to accepting donations of used books from individuals or groups include:
- Gently used (or new) children's books are accepted by Bernie's Book Bank for Chicago, Illinois and surrounding suburbs
- Gently used children's books are accepted by BookEnds of West Hills, California
- Gently used (or new) children's books are accepted by the Migrant Media Book Flood Project for Watsonville, California
- Gently used (or new) children's and teen/young adult books are accepted by Reader to Reader of Amherst, Massachusetts
- Gently used children's books are accepted by the African Library Project of Portola Valley, CA
- Nearly all types of books are accepted by the Darien Book Aid Plan Inc. of Darien, CT
- Nearly all types of books are accepted by the International Book Project, Inc. of Lexington, Kentucky
- Nearly all types of paperback books only are accepted by the Prison Book Program of Quincy, Massachusetts.
- Nearly all types of paperback books only are accepted by the Books to Prisoners of Seattle, Washington; by Prisoners Literature Project of San Francisco, California; by Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners Project of Urbana, Illinois; by Prison Library Project of Claremont, California; by the Inside Books Project of Austin, Texas; Books Through Bars of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project of Bloomington, Indiana.
- Nearly all types of paperback books only are accepted by the Women's Prison Book Project of Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are also Books to Prisoners programs in other cities, including the Chicago Books to Women in Prison.
- Nearly all types of paperback books are accepted by the LGBT Books to Prisoners of Madison, WIsconsin.
More importantly, see the Prison Book Program's National Prisoner Resource List for a nationwide list of groups accepting donated books for prisons all across the country. There's also a map and a full page of links to Other Books to Prisoners Programs.
With a little extra effort, including registering with their web sites for further instructions, you can donate books, DVDs, and video games to members of the armed forces serving overseas:
Is there a group near me that is in need of book donations?
- Contact your local public library to find out any available opportunities, including, if you're willing, donating the books for its next fundraising book sale.
Most important is to contact the groups listed beforehand, to find out what kind of books they need and are hoping to receive for distribution.
- Library Discards & Donations Program of Better World Books; e-mail: email@example.com
- Book Rescue of School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE); e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Got Library Books, the Thrift Books Library Program for donated and discarded books from libraries and schools; also see the Library partnership program of Thriftbooks.com; Thriftbooks Contact Page
- What We're Buying at Zubal Books; e-mail: email@example.com
I need book donations! Anyone else I can contact about this?
- Contact Better World Books: Donation requests are reviewed and determined on a case-by-case basis. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org which includes the following: full contact information (full name, organization and department name, address, phone, email, etc.), type/titles needed, quantity desired, and project this is related to. Someone will contact you when they've had a chance to review your request.
- Contact the Association of American Publishers about being added to its Book Donation Initiative page, a list of groups needing book donations.
- Complete the University of Buffalo Libraries International Donations Form to be added to their list of groups needing book donations
Last updated: July 2015
For more information on this or other fact sheets, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: email@example.com; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.