We have a three-tier system for our discards and unaccepted donations/post-book-sale leftovers…
1. Better World Books “send” titles: they require materials be pre-scanned using their on-line tool and a barcode scanner (volunteers are very good at this), and probably only accept 1 in 25 titles, but we sent them 13 boxes this month and will probably see between $50-$75 in commission. They pay postage on books they know they can sell online and the proceeds after our commission support their non-profit which promotes literacy around the world. I love this service because it means that someone who is looking for the specific book we seek to pass along will find it via the internet!
2. Kids books and (mainstream-ish) health books in good condition: we donate to the health center and they give them away in their waiting room. We redistributed 3 boxes this way this year, so far.
3. Books that meet the criteria of Books to Prisoners (Google them and check out their web site): box them up in our smallest Brodart boxes (so postage is modest per box), label them ready to mail to Books to Prisoners. [I tried to find a Vermont connection for getting books into the prisoners here and alas, no luck.] I mention the stack of boxes ‘waiting to be adopted’ to specific patrons that I know are social-justice types, who will often take one to the post office and pay for postage. Win-win on the feel-good front, this one. We recently re-distributed 5 boxes this way.
Even with all of that, there are still approximately 20 boxes left over from our book sale that are destined for the dump. I try to put the quantity into perspective for people by pointing out that we have redistributed at least half of the material that did not sell at the book sale. But throwing out the book is not the same as throwing out the contents: there are hundreds of thousands of copies printed in most circumstances, so each copy is more like a shadow, or an echo, of the actual author’s work. It makes me feel a little better at the “book cemetery.”
Loona Brogan, Director
Cutler Memorial Library