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Memorial Hall Library

Book Donations to the Friends of MHL -- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

See also the Library's Gifts and Donations Policy

What do you do with the items I donate to you?

When you donate books, you are actually donating books to the Friends of Memorial Hall Library. Our Friends run our book sales. The money they earn at the book sales is used to help the Library. The Library selects items that fill gaps in our collection, and we add those items to our collection. So when you donate books, you are helping the Library, whether we add the books to the collection or the Friends sell the books.

Why don't you add everything you are given to your collection? 

Any books that we choose to add to the collection must meet our regular selection criteria as outlined in our Collection Development Manual. Sometimes the donated item doesn't meet these criteria -- it may contain dated information, it may be in poor condition, or it may not meet the information needs of our community. Sometimes we have enough copies of the donated title, or enough information on the subject. If we can't use the item, we turn it over to the Friends to sell in the book sale, or donate it to More Than Words, a nonprofit that works with at risk youth in the Boston area.

Can I get a receipt for the items I donate?

We are not able to quote a value for the items you give us, but blank donation receipts are available on the table where donations are dropped off. They do not have to be signed by a staff member.

What kinds of items do you like to receive?

Most importantly, we like to receive current titles in excellent condition. Titles in poor condition do not hold up to library processing and circulation (think of the book drops!) These are the things we love to get:

  • Current and former bestsellers in excellent condition, both fiction and nonfiction
  • Hardback classics in excellent condition
  • Fiction paperbacks in like-new condition
  • Children's titles in good condition (sell well!)
  • Textbooks
  • Historical material related to Andover and the Merrimack Valley
  • Unabridged audio recordings, both fiction and nonfiction
  • Feature film DVDs from the last year -- purchased, not copied, with covers in good condition
  • CDs - popular works 

What kinds of items can't you use?

  • Items in poor condition -- yellow pages, highlighted text, mildew odor
  • Encyclopedias of any age
  • Back issues or runs of magazines
  • Condensed books
  • Dated nonfiction
  • Videocassette (VHS) movies
  • Vinyl records
  • Audio cassettes

We can't add these items to our collection, and from experience we know that people won't buy them at the book sales. The Library currently partners with More Than Words, a local nonprofit that works to empower at risk youth in the Boston area. They pick up discarded materials on a weekly basis. It's OK to discard books that have lived the good life, given you pleasure, but are no longer in demand or useful! Really.

What do you do with books that are left over after the Friends Book Sale?

More Than Words hauls away the unsold books after each book sale.

Where do I bring the items I want to donate? Can I get help with my donations?

If you come in the back (Parking Lot) entrance, go down the hall past the staircase, toward the elevator, and leave items on the table. If you come in the front (Main Street) entrance, just give the items to the staff at the Circulation Desk. Staff are not able to help unload or carry books into the library. Please bring the items in boxes or bags you are able to carry yourself.

What if I have a large number of books to donate? Does the library pick up donations?

The library does not pick up donations. One organization that might pick them up is More Than Words.