Balancing the Books: Donations and Better World Books
15 April, 2019
A problem all libraries have that people might not consider is too many books. Running a good library service is less about having as many books as possible, than being able to offer people the right books, at the right time. This is particularly important in health libraries, which aim to support people providing care to patients; not providing up to date information would be irresponsible.
So, we regularly need to get rid of books, a process called ‘weeding’. But what do you do with books when you don’t need them anymore? Personally, I would take any unwanted books to a charity shop but in a professional capacity that just isn’t practical. Firstly, the volume of books is too high to walk them over to a charity shop and hiring a van to do so would eat into our budget for buying replacements. Secondly, regular charity shops just don’t want old medical books.
Thankfully, we have recently started working with Better World Books! If, like me, you buy a lot of second-hand books on Amazon, you may recognise the name. They provide a free service where they pick-up books libraries are getting rid of and either sell them on or recycle them. If they are re-sold a percentage of that income goes to literacy charities. They also provide literacy grants, donate books through not-for-profits and prevent old books ending up in landfills rather than being recycled. So far, they have donated almost 27 million books to global literacy initiatives, raised close to £22 million for literacy and allowed libraries to reuse or recycle more than 325 million books.
A partnership such as this is particularly useful in a membership library that receives donations. It is relatively common for libraries such as the one at the RCPsych to be contacted by retired members saying they would like to donate some books; this is often because they are moving house and need to downsize their extensive collections. Sadly, we are also contacted by the families of members who have recently died and are looking for a home for their books. We cannot possibly keep all the books we are offered but circumstances often dictate that people offer us ‘all or nothing’. In that case, it is better for everyone if we can take all the books and pass on whatever doesn’t meet our Collections Policy to Better World Books.
If you have some books you would like to donate, please send us an email.
But please no old journals, in this digital age, literally no one wants them!