Archive for Sunday, May 2, 2004

Couple in bind over too many books

May 2, 2004


When the oldest child left home, a book-loving family made his room into a library. New shelves stretched all across the wall opposite the windows.

With so much space, the family enjoyed arranging books. There was space for encyclopedias, atlases and travel books and a shelf for the family Bible. Paperbacks filled part of one area, texts from classes, books on agriculture, baseball, gardening, history, poetry, and books from a book club took other spots. Children's books went on a lower shelf.

Family members knew that a book was always a welcome gift.

The years went by. The shelves were full. The book club had long since been dropped, and some of the books had been given away. But new books were so interesting they had to be bought, and books kept coming as gifts.

No problem. Just lay the new books on top of the old ones. But one day, the husband said, "Have you looked in the library lately? We have to do something about it!"

So they started doing something.

First, they took all the books off the shelves and dusted. Then they laid enough books aside to make space for the ones lying on top. They invited family members to come by, sort through the extra books and take any they wanted.

They learned that some stores will buy books. A friend even sold a few on eBay. Finally they went to talk to the local librarian.

Marcia Allen, head of Collection Development at the Manhattan Public Library, assured them the library takes donations of books, videos, CDs and DVDs.

The most saleable of these items go into a place called "The Friends Corner." Volunteers price items and put them on shelves for readers to buy. Once a year the library sponsors a three-day book sale in the auditorium. Sale books have been donated or withdrawn from the library's collection.

The Lawrence Public Library accepts donations of books for the biannual Friends of the Library book sales. For more information, call 843-3833 or e-mail

"Books should be in good condition," Allen said. "Paperbacks are popular, as are cookbooks and books on art and history."

What didn't sell, she said, were encyclopedias. "So many people use computers for information," Allen said. "We're also careful about medical books because information changes so much. Medical books should be no older than three to five years."

"Small libraries in your area may be glad to accept books," Allen said. Library members of the North Central Kansas Library System often seek donations.

One can also check with school or church libraries to see if they can take books or videos.

What does the library do with donated books that can't be used and don't sell? "Often we find that the jails and emergency shelters will take them," Allen said.

So the family with too many books learned ways to pass the extras to others who will be glad to have them.

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