March 16, 2018

Five Great Things Libraries Are Doing With Old Books | LJ Insider

Library book sales (and their descendants, such as Better World Books) are a great institution, but they’re not the only thing libraries can do—or help their patrons do—with obsolete titles besides the dumpster. Here are five creative reuses from real libraries.

  1. Turning them into New Books

    People’s Library Book

    In Richmond, VA, The People’s Library is a collaborative art project to create 100 handmade books of personal history. The Richmond Public Library helped collect discarded books to be recycled into paper, then bound into books with prompts inside them. They’ll be added to the library’s permanent collection, and patrons can check them out and respond to the prompts.

  2. Turning them into Art
    In Bath, England, the library found a new use for weeded books that don’t sell. Patrons collect a book and turn it into an art contest entry with the help, if they like, of a series of library workshops. The resulting art projects are exhibited at the central library and online and the public votes for their favorites; the winner in each category receives a free ereader.
  3. Fixing Them
    For 40 years, Georgia’s Hall County Library System has partnered with the National Library Bindery to restore old books and Biblesbelonging to library patrons. Repairs take about two months, and patrons are charged for the service.

    Map tree book art

    One of last year’s winners from the Bathnes library book art contest

  4. Turning Them Into Furniture
    An oldie but a goodie: a reference desk made of books in a Dutch library.
  5. Turning Them into Fundraisers
    Recycled Reads, the Austin Public Library’s used bookstore, upcycles old books and media into crafts and sells the results.
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Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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  1. The Boston Public Library has a book sale twice a year at which they sell their cast-offs–people buy them. Obviously they can’t  sell them all, but they do make a little money from those sales.