Skip to main content

How to donate used books


Whether you’re graduating, packing for a trip home, or just sick of lugging around a "to-read" pile of books, donating reading materials you no longer need is a great option to consider. This guide is a selective listing of groups and organizations that accept book donations on or near campus. The pages that follow discuss where you can donate used books and course materials you no longer need on campus, where to find a donation drop box in Bronxville and the surrounding area, how to donate books to prison programs and prison libraries in NY, and more.

General tips for donating books

  • Read donation guidelines before donating books

Before you donate your books, make sure you check out an organization or library's book donation policies. Most can only accept certain types of books, and you may have to donate to more than one organization to get rid of your entire stash. 

  • Avoid book donations that are damaged or in bad condition

If you wouldn’t buy it or give it to a friend, think twice about donating it. Condition matters – if your items have any of the following issues, they usually won’t be accepted:

  • Dirty
  • Moldy
  • Burnt
  • Water damage
  • Damaged binding or pages
  • Missing covers or pages
  • Excessive writing, markings, or highlighting
  • Cut out library treatments
  • Be mindful of donating outdated material

Often organizations and libraries will not accept material that is out of date or exists in a significantly different and more recent edition. This includes magazines, Reader's Digest Condensed Books, encyclopedias, National Geographic Magazines, workbooks and study guides, non-commercially produced media, or textbooks and professional materials more than 5 years old.

Unusual books and special collections

Most places that accept donated new or used books will NOT accept sets of encyclopedias or other categories of special or rare books. Rather than simply putting these out for recycling, you can try thinking outside of the box and see if some more unusual places will accept your donation. Here are a few suggestions from the American Library Association:

  • local theaters (for stage props)
  • arts and crafts locations
  • ski resorts
  • preschools/childcare sites
  • children's hospitals
  • nursing homes

If you have books that are rare and questions about what to do with them, check out Your Old Books, a guide about getting rid of and assessing the value of old books made by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, Association of College and Research Libraries.

Source: ALA Book Donation Programs Resource Guide