Repurposing Dusty Old Books

This local book stop/bus shelter is free for the community in Efrat, Israel. Photo credit: Varda Meyers Epstein

Readers often downsize their book collections when moving or during cleaning sprees. “People have an aversion to throwing away books. Books seem so sacred, somehow,” said author Corinne Smith. Smith was a librarian for over 30 years and currently works at a used bookstore.

Donna Kaz, author of Un/Masked, Memoirs of a Guerilla Girl on Tour, only keeps books that are special to her and that she would want to read again. The finished books that she does not want to keep, she donates because she never wants to throw any books away. “It is my hope that other readers will enjoy a book as much as I have.”

“Recently, I gave away a lot of early elementary books through our network. It is a wonderful way to get rid of books because they go straight into the heads of eager, often underprivileged, homeschool families,” said Sarah Tippett, Editor of Homeschool Base.

Donate to Local Book Non-Profits
There are charities geared towards repurposing books and increasing literacy. 13-year-old reader Megan Warren started her own non-profit two years ago called Books For Bedtime whose mission is “To give as many books as possible, to as many children as possible, in as many places as possible.” So far the organization has given away 33,000 books to children in need. For books in bad condition, they still get a second life as craft material.

Jackie Pantaliano, a public relations firm owner, has donated books to a local Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) chapter. CASA leaves books in the courtrooms for the long waits faced by children of abuse and neglect who are in the process of transitioning to a new home.

The Chicago Literacy Alliance is an association of more than 100 organizations focused on improving literacy in Chicago. 882,000 or 30 percent of adults in Chicago have low basic literacy skills, according to Southern Illinois University, Department of Economics and Finance, APC #508 FY 2011 Demographic Data. The Chicago Literacy Alliance envisions a future in which 100 percent of Chicagoland residents are functionally literate. Each year members give away hundreds of thousands of books each year, according to Communications Manager Heather Bronson.

On June 3, the Chicago Literacy Alliance will host a book fundraiser called Night of 300 Books to raise funds to support literacy. The books at the event will range from first editions and signed works through art made of books, books made of art, and a few extra-rare surprises, according to Bronson.

Donate to Local Book Exchanges
The Little Free Library has over 50,000 libraries in over 70 countries and is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. Readers can start their own Little Free Library, become a steward of the library, or donate or read books from a local Little Free Library. Spokane College of English Language Director Joshua Porter donates books to his local library, and also gifts books to international students so that they take a piece of American literature to their home country.

Kars4Kids Communications Writer Varda Meyers Epstein donates to her local book stop library, which is a bus shelter and a book stop in Efrat, Israel. The book stop has been transformed into a book-sharing cooperative for community members to donate a book or take a book. “We are very proud of this book stop and what it says about our community,” said Epstein.