"I Wonder" Wednesday: Refusing Large Book Donations?

by | Aug 3, 2011 | 3 comments

From: “Helen P. Mack” <hpm0@Lehigh.EDU>

In the last year or so, we have been the recipient of 2 very large groups of donated books. In both cases, we’re talking about over 1000 books. For political reasons, we felt it unwise to refuse the donations. But the problem is obvious — what to do with all these books when they come through the door? There are concerns relating to staffing, temporary housing, staging area, time spent reviewing them and selecting the keepers, disposal of duplicates, cataloging, and shelving. What to do with books in disrepair? I wonder if the expenditure of all this time and labor is really worth it.

If it is worth it, then we need more staff, more space, and more time to do justice to the gifts operation. That is not going to happen in this economic environment. If it is not worth it, then is the answer a policy to refuse any donation over, say, 3 cartons? This could easily turn into 3 cartons this week, 3 cartons next week … you get the picture.

Have any institutions gone this route? Has anyone declared a moratorium on accepting donations? Are there libraries that have discontinued their entire gifts operation? Was there any fallout from what you did? And what do you do with books that someone just drops off — recycle them without looking at them? What if there is a rare book mixed in with textbooks from 1955, for example? At what point do you say this is too much and things grind to a halt?

After reading this recent post to COLLDV-L, ATG is wondering:

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Why or why not?  Give us your reasons in the comment field below.

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