How to Host a Book Drive

If you’re interested in helping out the Syracuse Little Free Libraries by hosting a book drive in the spring, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Here we’ve compiled some guidelines that will help you while setting up and running your book drive.

First:  Prior to the beginning of the book drive

  • Identify who will be responsible for which aspects of running the book drive. Set up a committee. If the members of your organization/business/group alone cannot spend enough time to run the book drive, enlist friends and volunteers.
  • If you’re hosting a book drive to benefit the SYR-LFLs, contact us and let us know! We have materials you’ll need.
  • If you are hosting a book drive for an organization other than the LFLs, decide what kind(s) of books you would like, and in what condition you will accept them.
  • Determine how and where you would like people to drop off donations. Will one of your staff or members have to devote some of their time to receiving books, or will you have boxes/bins set up such that donors can walk right in and drop off their donations without assistance? What is most convenient, both for those who are donating, and for your organization?
  • Make sure you have adequate space/a plan to store a fairly large quantity of books. One thing we learned from our first book drive in spring 2012 is that the response to a call for books can be overwhelming. We ended up with over double the amount of books we were expecting.
    • This means having boxes/bins ready for holding donations, as well.
  • Decide when to begin your book drive. It can be beneficial to hold your book drive in conjunction with other reading/literacy events in your community. The American Library Association has a list of celebration weeks and promotional events, some of which your community may already participate in. You can view that list, along with descriptions of the events, here.
  • Decide how long you will continue accepting donations. A week? A month? What if someone shows up after the end date you have set, looking to donate their books? Make sure you allow donors enough time to receive your promotional information, sort through their books, and deliver them to you before closing your book drive.

Next

  • Promote your book drive! Get the word out via fliers, newspaper ads, social media, email, posters, write a press release… any way you can. We have created a one-page guide to the types of books we are collecting that you are welcome to use as a flier. Whether you use our guidelines or not, be sure to include the following information in all promotional materials:
    • Dates of the book drive. Are there specific dates/times that you will be unable to accept donations?
    • Locations. Where exactly will you be accepting donations?
    • What books to bring and in what condition you will accept them. Make sure people know not to bring in books with torn off covers, pages that are falling out, etc.
    • Purpose of the book drive. If there’s one thing we learned by the wonderful response we received in the spring, it’s that people are happy to part with their new and gently used books for a good cause. Some folks even went out and bought brand new books to give away!
  • Set up your collection area. Place boxes/bins in their appointed places, and add posters and signs to further advertise your book drive.

During the Book Drive

It is best to do the following on an on-going basis during the book drive, so books don’t pile up. This is the most time-consuming part of the book drive.

  • Sort in-coming donations. This means dividing them up by genre, as outlined in this chart and our collection development policy. Know that, despite the guidelines you put forth in your promotional materials, you will always find at least a few donated books that do not meet your standards/requirements.
  • As you sort the books, stamp them with the SYR-LFL stamp. You can borrow a couple of our stamps from Maarten Jacobs (mjacob01@syr.edu). Each stamp is good for approximately 2,000 impressions.
  • Once they have been stamped and sorted, books should be put into boxes, with a variety of the collected genres in each box. If you cannot put them into these assortment boxes, please clearly mark on the outside of the box what genre each box contains.
  • Once a box is complete–with all books stamped and featuring a variety of genres, you can hand it off to the Little Free Libraries at any time.

After the Book Drive

  • Recycle or give away any books that you did not accept, for one reason or another.
  • Hand processed boxes off to the Little Free Libraries. Again, contact Maarten Jacobs regarding where to deliver your donations.
  • Thank your contributors! Just as you promoted the event before and during the book drive, it will only improve your results next time if you publicize your success this time around. Remind people of your cause, and inform them of (approximately) how many donations you received.

More Resources

Read to Grow–a Connecticut-based organization focused on promoting literacy for children–has built a Book Drive Tool Kit that features some very good, detailed information. Keep in mind, it is primarily geared toward collecting children’s books, but their information is useful and adaptable.