Where to Donate Books (Because That Pile Is Leaning More Than the Tower of Pisa)

If we had it our way, we’d have a Beauty and the Beast-esque home library that could easily hold all of our favorite titles and we’d never have to get rid of a single book. The reality is, though, that books take up quite a bit of space—especially when you collect them like Pokémon cards. But don’t fret: Just because you need to unload a few—or dozens of—tomes doesn’t mean they’re doomed for a landfill. On the contrary, it’s actually pretty easy to ensure they end up in good hands. Below, find out where to donate the books your shelf can no longer accommodate.

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1. Your Local Library

You don’t have any more use for a book and a library’s whole thing is books—makes sense to just bring it there, right? Kind of. If you’re hoping to donate used books to your local library, it’s helpful to call ahead and see what kinds of books they could use. Even if there’s not a current need for your vast collection of Latin American history books, they might be able to tell you about an upcoming community book drive or other donation opportunities.

2. Goodwill (or Other Thrift Stores)

You know all those times you’ve cleaned out your closet and schlepped garbage bags of unwanted clothes to your local Goodwill? Yeah, you can take books next time, too. Same goes for thrift stores (where we personally have made some killer book finds in the past.) Find a Goodwill donation center near you here.

3. Schools

This one’s mostly for children’s books, but still. If your kid is blowing through reading levels like it’s her job, you likely have a ton of books lying around. Because many teachers stock their bookshelves with their own money, it could be a huge help to send them on their way to a new home. As with the library option, reach out to daycares or schools in your area and see if they could use your donation first, so as not to be a burden.

4. Prisons

Think about the immense power books have to transport you to better, happier places. Now imagine how necessary that mental transporting is for people who are incarcerated. According to the Prison Book Program, an organization that’s been donating books to incarcerated people since 1972, most prisons don’t allow family and friends to send books into prisons—they must come from a bookstore, publisher, online retailer or a donation program. Go to PBP’s website to find a list of local prison book donation programs in your state.

5. Freecycle

Freecycle is a grassroots nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns, with the aim of keeping perfectly usable items out of landfills. Once you make a free account, you can create listings for the books you’re hoping to unload and people in your area can browse and request as they please. From there, the two parties set up a pickup time and location and just like that you’ve saved an item from ending up in a landfill. Easy peasy.

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...