Inside: If you’ve decluttered your books and aren’t sure what to do with them, check out these great places to donate used books to make a positive impact.

If you love to read, chances are you’ve accumulated an impressive collection of books over the years. 

Unfortunately, over the years, those books can turn into clutter if you’re not using them and they feel burdensome.

Books can take up a lot of space and become an easy place for dust to accumulate. They’re also quite heavy to move.

For some, decluttering books isn’t easy. But if you have books that haven’t been touched in years and you’re ready to lighten your load and simplify your collection, it’s motivating to consider how your used books could benefit others.

Fortunately, if you’re looking to get rid of books, you have quite a few great options to explore – especially if you’re looking to donate them.

Regardless of the number of books you have, or the types of books you’re looking to get rid of, you can easily find an organization (or two) that would appreciate them. 

Ready to reclaim your shelf space and make a positive impact in your community? Consider boxing those books up and giving them to a great cause. 

places to donate used books

Where can I donate books? 

If books have become clutter in your home, take some time to sort through them and decide which of them can go.

Once you’re done, you may be wondering what options you have for where you can responsibly donate them.

Thankfully, there are multiple options to consider, from big libraries to little nonprofits.

While you might be able to find a local donation drop box in your area to quickly get them off of your hands, with a little research, you can find a way to ensure they’ll be appreciated and used for a great cause.

Here are fifteen great places to donate used books and make a positive impact:

book cart in a library

1. Donate books to your local library.

One of the most obvious places to donate your unwanted or unneeded books is your local library. Many of us are fortunate enough to live near a community library – why not support their efforts by contributing to their collection? 

If you have a large quantity of books to donate, or books from a variety of genres, a library can be a great option to get them off your hands. From cookbooks to autobiographies and bestselling works of fiction, libraries will often accept literature of all types and for all ages.

In some cases, they’ll use your books to stock their internal shelves. Alternatively, they can use them to earn a small profit at book sales and use those funds to continue serving the community. 

The best way to donate books to your local library is to contact them and ask about their process – rather than showing up with a car filled with books to donate. While some libraries will accept donations year-round, others take a more measured approach to adding to their archives. 

If you have faith-based books consider checking with your church library to see if they can use them.

little free library

2. Add your books to a Little Free Library.

Have you ever spotted a Little Free Library? These micro-libraries are often established by local community groups or members and can be found in parks and neighborhoods.

They typically only contain a handful of books, unlike their larger community counterparts, but they’re a great free spot to donate books you no longer need – and potentially find a new novel to read while you’re at it.

Little Free Libraries are often limited in size, so if you’ve got a lot of books to donate, you’ll likely need to explore some other options in addition to this one. But if you have a handful of books you’d like to get out of your house, a Little Free Library can be the perfect spot. 

Locate the Little Free Libraries in your area here (or add one to their map if your community creates one!).

girls looking at books in school library

3. Give books to a nearby school.

Schools and educational institutions will often gladly receive donated books to add to their collections.

Evaluate the books you’re looking to give away and see what age range they’re most appropriate for.

Children’s books and simple stories are best suited for a daycare or an elementary school. More complex reads like autobiographies and nonfiction pieces may be appreciated at a local community college or university.

Then, look online for locations in your area and reach out to see if your donation could make a difference. 

waiting room with children's books

4. Donate books to a children’s hospital. 

If your collection includes books that are perfect for little readers, consider calling up your local children’s hospital to see if they’ll accept donations.

Reading can be a great way to distract little ones who are going through medical treatment, but access to books within hospitals is often limited.

You can also check with your local pediatrician’s office to see if they could use any books in their waiting area.

Your donation could make a big difference and brighten a child’s day!

books being placed into a box

5. Donate books to a homeless shelter or rehabilitation program.

Your unneeded books can be a great resource for people who are working to better their lives and get back on their feet.

If you live near a homeless shelter, women’s home, or rehabilitation clinic, give them a call to see if they’ll accept donations.

You can also inquire about which types of books would be most helpful. 

6. Donate your books to other local organizations in your area.

While the specific options will vary from city to city, there are typically a wide variety of local organizations that would gladly take your unwanted books and give them to those in need.

These nonprofits have all kinds of missions, from getting books into the hands of children in underserved communities to empowering people with the gift of literature.

Some places to consider include:

Foster care organizations

Children transitioning to a different living situation can benefit by having a few books to take with them. Check with local foster care agencies if you have books appropriate for children or teens.

Local food banks

Some local food banks not only offer food but other resources as well. It’s worth checking with local food banks to see if they accept book donations for their clients.

Thrift shops

Thrift shops are a sure-fire place where you can donate boxes of books. The proceeds they make from your donation will go toward funding their mission. While not all donation organizations are created equal, many work hard to have a positive impact in the community.

places to donate used books

7. Donate books to an international organization to increase literacy.

Did you know that your used books to help promote literacy in another country?

Books for Africa is a great nonprofit organization that donates books to children in all African countries to educate and empower those in need.

They’ve shipped over 58 million books, as well as computers, tablets, and learning supplies.

You can find a list of the types of books they accept here as well as information on how to donate.

prison inmate holding a book

8. Donate books to prisoners.

Another great place to donate your books if you’re looking to make a difference? A prison.

While it might not be the first place that comes to mind, books are a highly valued resource in prisons where internet access is limited, if not entirely unavailable.

Check out organizations like the Prison Book Program and Books Through Bars. They can help facilitate your donation if you aren’t sure where to start. 

senior woman reading a book

9. Donate books to retirement homes or senior centers. 

Reading is a great way to keep your brain engaged. It’s a pastime that’s often encouraged in retirement homes and senior centers.

However, these organizations often operate on tight budgets and can rarely afford to expand their library offerings without a little help. Many genres and types are often gladly accepted!

A quick Google search will reveal locations in your area and provide contact information so you can reach out to start the process. 

places to donate used books

10. Donate books to military service members

Books are a great option when service members are far from home with limited access to technology.

Operation Paperback has been working to provide books to troops since 1999. They’ve shipped over 2.9 million books to more than 30 locations overseas.

There are various ways to help including donating books or being part of the shipping process.

11. Give books to Veteran’s Associations

Another great option for donating used books is with your local VA. Contact the organization in your area to see if they’re currently accepting books.

A convenient option is to use Pickup Please which comes to your home to collect your used books. They support the Vietnam Veterans of America and donations help to support their mission.

According to their website “Not only do your book donations through Pickup Please support US Veterans, they also support reading in general. Schools and families buy books for fun and education. Instead of throwing out your old books or recycling them, donate them so they can be read and enjoyed again”.

places to donate used books

12. Use a book donation bin

Similar to how you may see donation bins for clothing in your area, bins specifically for books have popped up recently too.

I tried to find local book donation bins in my area but couldn’t find any. They seem to be hyper-local and run by various organizations.

It may be easier to notice if you see any while driving on your usual routes as there are quite a few of them around.

Then you can do a deeper dive into the organization that it supports.

box of free books

13. Donate books via Buy Nothing (or other local free sites)

Are you part of a local Buy Nothing group? If you aren’t sure what that is, you can learn more about how Buy Nothing works here.

In many areas, there are a number of options for giving away items to others in your community. Check local Facebook groups, freecyle, or Craigslist.

Depending on where you live, leaving a box of used books with a free sign may be an option too.

14. Give used books to friends or family members

Offering books to friends and family members can be a great way to share books you enjoyed with people you love.

This can lead to great discussions with different thoughts or perspectives from reading the same book.

Grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and discuss your thoughts and feelings on the book after they’ve read it. Sharing books can be a fun way to connect with loved ones, although you may want to avoid books on particular topics if you think those discussions are more likely to become arguments.

used book store

15. Donate your books to a used bookshop

Another idea of a great place to donate used books is your local used book store. It’s a great way to keep your book out of a landfill and allow someone to buy it secondhand at a discount.

In this case, your money is likely going toward keeping the shop running, which is a great help to a small business.

If you love independent bookshops and buying secondhand, this can be a wonderful way to support that.

Final thoughts on donating books

There are many great options for donating books that will get clutter out of your home while enriching the lives of others.

The goal is to keep them out of the landfill, so you can’t go wrong with any of these places to donate used books.

Pick the options that you like best and go for it!

What’s your favorite place to donate used books? Leave a comment and let me know!

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