20 Great Places to Donate New or Old Used Books

Updated

Spend just five minutes with a new or used book, and it instantly transports you to another world. You’ll be whisked away on a thrilling adventure or shapeshift into the fly on the wall of some historical time or event.  

Jump ahead to these sections:

Listed below, you’ll find organizations where you can donate these paper treasures—helping others escape to new worlds, and build and improve vocabulary or literacy, all while supporting causes near or far from home.

Popular Organizations Where You Can Donate Books 

We’ve found donations for just about any situation or organization you can think of—from the arts and humanities to soldiers, retirees, homeless shelters, animal shelters, prisons, and more. Here are some ideas to help you decide where to donate:

1. Museums and historical societies

Museums and local historical societies will accept books if they serve the mission or collection. 

For donations to the Library of Congress, you’ll need to fill out an online “gift offer” so that library professionals can assess the offer before committing to the donation.

2. Little local theatres

Your hometown or local theatre may be all too happy to accept books, manuscripts, and other theatre memorabilia, especially if the copies are signed or well-preserved

The company may decide to keep the donation or use it to raise funds for any future productions.

3. The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army will distribute donated paperback or hardcover books to the eponymous homeless shelters or thrift stores.

By donating to them, you’ll be supporting education, poverty relief, and other Christian charitable organizations.

Pro-tip: Goodwill and the United Way are additional and similar resources you can use for book donations. Like The Salvation Army, these programs also support education, income resiliency, and health programs.

4. Homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and domestic violence centers

Consider taking your gently used books to shelters for people experiencing homelessness or those in need of a safe place. 

Keep in mind that some of these places maintain visitor logs for their residents, especially victims of crime. Just give a call beforehand so you understand their rules and routine procedures for book drop-offs. 

5. Vietnam Veterans of America

Vietnam Veterans of America supplies VA Hospitals with your book donation to provide entertainment for injured and retired soldiers. They accept:

  • Hardcover books
  • Softcover books
  • Textbooks
  • Magazines

To donate a large number of books, schedule a pickup right from your home.

6. African Library Project

Donating to the African Library Project (ALP) takes some initiative on your end but makes for a great kid’s school project. All you need to do is:

  • Register with ALP and plan your book drive.
  • Raise $500—approximately $250 to ship the books and $250 as a donation to ALP.
  • Collect approximately 1,000 books.
  • Pack and send the books via US Postal Service Media Mail using the ALP mailing labels.
  • Donate any remaining funds to ALP.

Once you’ve sent off the books, share that you’ve just helped create school libraries throughout Africa with your community. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!

7. Retirement, assisted living, convalescing, and other support centers

Contact any local facility to find out about potential book donation opportunities. While you’re at it, ask about their reading programs so you can spend some one-on-one time with residents brightening up their day.

8. Books Through Bars

Books Through Bars has been donating books to incarcerated people in the Mid-Atlantic states for over thirty years. To donate used books, send an email with the following information included:

  • The number of books you’re donating.
  • Book condition and if soft or hardcover.
  • Subject matter and genre of the books.

To donate new books, first, check out their wish list. Then send any purchased items to:

Books Through Bars
4722 Baltimore Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19143

For those located on the West Coast, check out Books to Prisoners, a nonprofit founded by Left Bank Books. They send donated books to prisons throughout the United States.

9. Books for Soldiers and Operation Paperback

You’ve got two great options to support our troops.

  • Books for Soldiers collects new and requested books for Armed Forces personnel while they’re on deployment.
  • Operation Paperback sends gently used books to military members, chaplains, veterans, and spouses.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget to send kids books, too. Many deployed military members read to their kids while they’re assigned TDY or TAD.

10. Humane Societies and other animal rescues or sanctuaries

Have you ever considered reading to the animals at the Humane Society and other animal rescues or sanctuaries? Believe it or not, animals love to hear a soothing voice—especially if it’s coupled with many pets and scratches. 

So, next time you plan on volunteering with some needy pets, bring along a few books. Just leave them so that others can benefit as well.

Popular Organizations Where You Can Donate Children’s Books 

When you donate your books to children’s literacy campaigns, you’re supporting a child’s health, happiness, and outlook. Keep scrolling to see how.

11. Neighborhood library

Most libraries (or Friends of Libraries programs) have donation options for gently used books and magazines.

In some cases, you can arrange to have the collection picked up if it’s large enough. 

12. Little Blue Bookshelf

Supported through the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southwest Kansas, the Little Blue Bookshelf encourages reading levels through third grade. 

The founders of the program believe that by giving kids who are experiencing a crisis the opportunity to own a book—they’re facilitating pride in book ownership and a lifelong interest in learning.

13. Reader to Reader, Inc.

Some of the most significant accomplishments of Reader to Reader, Inc. includes donating over five million books and fifty million dollars worth of donations, including:

  • $3.5 million in contributions to Navajo Nation, Hopi Nation, Red Lake, Lake Nation, and Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, among others.
  • Holyoke and Springfield, Massachusetts, now have established family literacy programs.
  • Over 600 under-resourced schools across the country have received books. 
  • And much more.

When you donate to Reader to Reader, Inc., you’re helping communities throughout the United States make sure that kids find pathways to graduation and stable lives.

14. Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Habitat for Humanity ReStores offers so much more than low-cost building materials. You can also find household goods such as books, furniture, and more. Note that every independently owned Restore is unique, so give them a call before you head down with a trunkload of books.

15. Local school

Not all local primary and middle schools have complete funding. Check with yours to see if they could use a few additional library books on their shelves. 

If so, you might consider starting a book or fund drive to fill up any empty spaces and replace old, worn books. By doing so, you’ll be helping kids secure a future with every book they check out. 

16. Kids Need to Read

What can reading provide for kids? Kids Need to Read believes that books support a child’s imagination, inspiration, and self-confidence. 

The goal at Kids Need to Read is simple: they want to help disadvantaged children build a future, giving them opportunities for equal footing no matter their background or abilities.

17. Hospitals, clinics, and specialty care offices

Medical waiting rooms need anything from games and magazines to books to capture the attention of children. Whether they work in dentistry, audiology, or internal medicine, talk with your provider to see if any of your books will suit their needs.

18. Children’s Literacy Foundation

Become an advocate for children through age 12 in New Hampshire and Vermont by donating to the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF). Your donation will help encourage low-income, at-risk, and rural youths to find a passion for reading and writing.

19. Faith-based organizations

For religion and faith-based materials, look to your local church, parish, temple, gurdwara, and any other assemblies of worship for donations. 

Some locations may provide daycare, which means that they can keep the little ones busy with the right books on hand.

20. Daycares

Do you know of a daycare that could use a few extra books? If not, ask your friends and neighbors which organization they would recommend. Then give them a call—don’t just stop by unannounced. 

Better yet, if one of your friends or family members uses that daycare, ask them to drop off the books for you. 

Tips for Finding Places to Donate Used Books Near You

Need some advice on places to donate your used books? Check out the following businesses and organizations for one that’s nearby and suits your needs.

Parking lot donation bins

Better World Books not only believes in global literacy, but they believe in the three R’s of Sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They estimate that one parking lot book bin saves:

  • More than 150 trees
  • More than 10,000 books reused or recycled
  • More than 74,000 gallons of water
  • More than 33,000 kilowatts of electricity
  • Over 23 cubic yards of landfill

Use their online location and mapping tool to find a dropbox location nearby—just cue in your zip code on their interactive map. You’ll note that sites are primarily in the East, South, and the Midwest. 

Alternatively, choose to set one up nearby. To do this, just get in contact to find out what options are available.

Online marketplaces

There’s a host of online marketplaces you can go to search for donation centers, drop off locations, and other avenues of possible donation ideas, such as:

  • Freecycle – A global nonprofit movement to keep things out of landfills, including books.
  • Facebook Marketplace – For the users of their social media website, you can find treasures to buy or ones to give away.
  • Craigslist – Like the classic newspaper classifieds with jobs, items for sale, and things to donate.
  • OfferUp – An online customer-to-customer platform that lets you buy, sell, and donate your items.
  • 5Miles – With a “Free and Donation” section, you can give away or donate your used books to anyone who searches within 5 miles of their location.

Some marketplace options don’t require a membership to donate well-loved books, making them easier and more accessible for all people.

The Book Donation Map of America

The Book Donation Map gives you a few options to make donating that much easier. Choose from Pick Up, Drop-Off (such as book bins), and Physical locations. 

Kids and parents can also request books from In The Book. Check it out and see how you can help a child who’s recovering from surgery or support a mom reading to her preemie. 

“Where to donate books near me?” 

Copy and paste these keywords into your search engine and see what pops up on your local map. You’re sure to find locations and/or bins for your books if you look the right way. 

Pro-tip: If you’re using Google, keep scrolling below the map to the section entitled, “People Also Ask.” There, you’ll find additional resources and options to suit your needs.

Reddit

Ask your local Reddit community if they know of any local businesses or charities that need books. Most people in the community are happy to provide answers supporting the needs of their community.

Every Used Book Needs a Loving Home

Reading well-loved books is like putting on a favorite pair of jeans—worn in all the right places. Give them pride of place on that bookshelf or nightstand, and they’ll settle into your home faster than you can say LeVar Burton or Reading Rainbow.


Sources:

1. Becker, Joshua. “20 Places to Donate Used Books.” Becoming Minimalist, Becoming Minimalist, 29 October 2019. becomingminimalist.com

2. Recycle Nation. “10 Ways to Recycle Your Old Books.” Recycle Nation, n.d. recyclenation.com

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