Setting up and operating a successful book
Set standards for type of books and quality. The type of book
is dependent on your eventual recipient. You need to tell your donors
what type of books you are collecting. Clearly schools require books
that are suitable to students in grade K through 12. Nursing homes
almost always want hard cover books and many will only accept
large print books. Prisons on the other hand, only want soft cover books
(next time you are reading a textbook, remember you've got a lethal weapon
in your hands). Each organization is different, that's why it's so important
to contact them before you start your collection of books. In all cases, mold
and mildew on the books are not acceptable. Also books must be in readable
condition, they can't be falling apart or missing pages. The types of books
and publications you can collect include novels, nonfiction and periodicals
(magazines). When you donate nonfiction books, you should be careful that
they are not out of date. Schools tend to be interested in all three. Nursing
homes and shelters frequently want novels but sometimes self help and other
nonfiction books are also of interest. Make sure your recipient realizes that
you are donating used (recycled books).
Identify sources of books (family, friends, neighbors, community
libraries and frankly anybody who reads and has unused books
the house). See below for many more tips on sources of
Contact people with books to give by phone, e-mail, IM, mailing,
newsletters, local newspapers, newsletter of community group, or flyers
under the doors of your neighbors. A press release can be effective in
letting people know about your program and local newspapers love to
have stories about kids doing good things (we're always interested in
these stories too, so please send us a copy of any press coverage you
There are all these great new social networking vehicles out
you can explore to help you collect books or put together a
group to help
you collect. They include websites like facebook,
myspace, Yahoo! 360 degrees,
Friendster and others (these web sites are not
suitable for all audiences).
Collect books around your community by picking up books from people's
homes. This is the hardest way to do it, but you'll also get the most
You can also have a drop off box in front of your house, or in
or in the store of a local merchant. We have had great
success with corporate
sponsors helping us with book drives and local
elected officials helping to
promote drives too.
Store books (do you have a big enough space in your house, basement,
spare room or bedroom - or do you need help from an outside
Participate in Bedsidebooks with your scout troop,
youth group, or as a class
project. Then store your books at the scout
meeting hall or youth group
center or your school.
Sort books. When you know what books the recipient organizations
sorting becomes easier. Children's books often have clues on the
Sometimes you can find the grade range of the books on the back,
it is an age range. That should help you sort. Other tip offs
for children's books
include the size of the print. Typically, the
larger the print, the younger the
Tips for finding books:
Remember that anyone who reads is bound to have some spare books lying
around the house that they don't need. How do you find them?
a. Join the local Freecycle community for your neighboorhood. There are
thousands of Freecycle communities around the country. They are a grassroots,
nonprofit movement of people giving away things (including books) that they
don't need. Membership is free.
b. Advertise on Craigslist. There are Craigslist sites for every state and for
most major cities. Under the for sale section, there are two section that you
might consider reviewing books and free. People may post books for free under
either category and you can post your request for books under the book section.
c. Send a press release to your local newspaper telling about your project.
Make sure the article tells people who want to donate books how to get in
to find a newspaper near you.
d. Don't forget to contact friends, relatives and classmates. The social
networking tools mentioned in #3 above should prove useful here.
As always, if you've got questions or problems, please feel free to
us at firstname.lastname@example.org.