How to Donate Old Books

How to Donate Old Books

Donate old books to charitable organizations according to their donation guidelines. The American Library Association says organizations reserve the right to accept or decline old books. So make sure the book’s subject matter and condition meet the group’s needs before you donate. For example, Book Project International in Lexington, Kentucky does not take encyclopedias older than 10 years. Check the collection methods, too. Open Book in Chicago accepts books onsite and by mail. Got Books of Lawrence, Massachusetts, collects old books in donation crates throughout New England. They also pick up donations.

Give books to a support organization such as Friends of the Library. Most libraries with a FOTL chapter sell donated books to raise funds. Certain books sell better. For instance, dictionaries sell better than Reader’s Digest condensed books. Ask the library staff about donation requirements. Or visit the Friends of the Library U.S.A website for a list of items that most libraries accept.

Drop books at a local Goodwill store. Book sale proceeds fund vocation programs for people with disabilities. They take gently used books in bags or boxes. Call the nearest donation center about logistics and hours of operation. Many stores have a donation center with a separate entrance. Sometimes hours vary between the store and the donation center (see Tips and Resources).

Donate old books to students. Books for the Barrios supplies under-served schools in California with donated books. They need bedtime story books, K-12 textbooks and new or partially used workbooks. Donations are accepted at the BFTB office in Concord, California.

Mail books to soldiers. The Books for Soldiers website helps people donate books to troops. Donors register and accept the volunteer agreement. Then they can request the addresses of troops and send packages.

Provide old books to doctors' offices. Reach Out and Read promotes literacy by placing donated books in pediatric waiting rooms. They accept gently used books for beginning readers. Visit the Find a Program page at the ROR website to find the nearest site to donate.

Share books with developing countries. Books Beyond Borders of Austin, Texas, sells books to build educational buildings in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Donate old textbooks by mail (see Resources below).


  • Take a tax deduction when you donate old books. The IRS requires donors to estimate items prior to donation. Look up values in the "Valuation Guide for Goodwill Donors" at the Goodwill International website. The Books For Soldiers website suggests that people consider subject matter before they donate old books. The Department of Defense warns against sending pornographic material. Possession of such material endangers troops in certain parts of the world.


  • Avoid sending books with apocalypse themes. Books for Soldiers says books serve as an escape from the stress of duty. Donate books like mysteries and old classics instead.