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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Book Donations

Posted by Alana T.

We receive a steady supply of book and movie donations from our patrons.  What happens with all those items?  There are many possibilities.

First, all donations, whether individual books or large collections (shown at left is a donation of 60s & 70s sci-fi) are surveyed by our Cataloging staff.  They, in conjunction with advice from Circulation staff, make the decision which items will be added to the collection.  We regularly add books (especially romance), DVDs and music CDs from donations.  In fact, about 95% of our music collection is based on donated CDs!  Cataloging also uses donated books in excellent condition to replace worn items the library owns.  This is the common fate of many hard-back bestsellers we receive.

Second, the donations go down to the ELF (Edwardsville Library Friends) room - which is just about as magical as it sounds.  Imagine a dark, little room with packed shelves and stacks of books towering over your head - that's the ELF room and one of my favorite places in the library The ELFs sort through all the donations in the room, separating items by category, genre and/or author (whatever is appropriate to their needs), and whether an item will be sold in Carnegie's, a special book sale, or through an online bookseller, or the bargain bins.

Items to be sold in Carnegie's (our library book store and cafe) and the book sale are organized by genre and put out for sale.  These are updated weekly.  Paperbacks sell for $.25 and hardbacks $.50.  What a bargain!  The book store is open for business whenever the library is open, but the yearly book sale is held in the summer during one of the Municipal Band Concerts.  The ELFs check prices for donations and items that will fetch a higher price elsewhere are sent to an on-line bookseller.  These books (often textbooks or specialty topics) are sent off monthly and the ELFs receive a check in the mail.

Sadly, we also receive books that have had long and difficult lives.  Perhaps they are stained, or very worn, or (the worst!) a little moldy.  For these items the only place to go is the recycling bin.  We remove their covers and away they go.  Sigh.

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