Many of us have piles of old books taking up space on shelves in our homes, even if we haven’t cracked them open in years. A community book drive can spread the joy of reading by providing nonprofit organizations with quality literature, textbooks, and even magazines.
Along with the more traditional places to donate books, such as libraries, schools, and churches, organizations like children’s hospitals, nursing homes, and homeless shelters also collect books for the benefit of their residents. Even theater programs, ski resorts, and day-care facilities need books. (The American Library Association has donation guidelines to follow.) Nonprofits dedicated to books and literacy are always in need of volunteers and cash gifts, too.
With a better sense of the organizations that can benefit from a book drive, you can focus on the practical steps that are necessary to inspire a love of literature in your neighborhood.
The first step in organizing a book drive is to collect a variety of books. People typically need a few weeks to gather their books for donation, and you should be sure to make it clear where and when books should be dropped off, particularly if there are a variety of options. For example, tell folks they can drop off books at your home Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm, or at the community center on Thursday evenings.
In order to spread the word about your book donation drive (and its ultimate goals), encourage members of your community to share all relevant information on social media and at local gathering points like churches, schools, or grocery stores. A block party is a great way to kick off and get participants excited about the book drive, while also providing an in-person opportunity to share more detailed information about the project.
Once the event is over, remember to let everyone know how many books were donated so your community can celebrate its accomplishments.
If local organizations don’t currently need used books or if shipping to a national nonprofit isn’t financially feasible, then a book drive is the perfect prelude to a fundraising book sale. Money generated from the sale can be donated to organizations like teen centers, libraries, and park districts to fund prizes for an after-school reading program or to buy new textbooks for an underfunded learning institution.
Funds from a book sale can also be donated to help libraries rebuild their structures or replenish their supply of quality reading material after a disaster like a fire or flood. The American Library Association is a great resource for learning more about organizations you can support with book collections and sales.
One of the greatest benefits of a neighborhood book drive is that it encourages reading throughout the community, which can as serve as a catalyst for thoughtful conversations. Even if you can only collect a dozen or so books, you can still put that book bank to good use.
In cities all over the world, you may discover small, weatherproof bookshelves are popping up outside of businesses, restaurants, and even homes. They are probably there because of a free book exchange that encourages readers to “take a book and return a book to share.” Books collected from your literature drive can be used to stock these libraries throughout your community and provide greater access to books (and knowledge!) while encouraging everyone to read. Or maybe you can start your own and organize your own neighbor book swap with your new collection.
If you’ve been wondering “Where can I donate books near me?,” then organizing your own drive or sale might be the perfect solution. Give your used books new life, and help a friend discover their next favorite novel. Let us know about your initiatives on Twitter, too!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.