Where To Donate Your Books After Spring Cleaning Your Shelves

April showers have officially brought May flowers, and you know what that means: the season is in full swing, and it's finally time to get some good-old-fashioned spring cleaning done. Get ready to open your windows, sweep under your couch, go through your closet, clean out your freezer, and pare down your beloved TBR pile. Only this year, instead of trying to stash every last book in the nooks and crannies of your too-small apartment, consider reaching out to one of the many organizations you can donate your books to.

As a bibliophile myself, I know how hard it is to let go of books, no matter how old they are. I have my original copy of Horton Hears a Who!, more than a few beat up Nancy Drew paperbacks, and every book I read in my dystopian lit class in college. It's true I love reading itself, but I love books even more. I decorate with them, plan my Halloween costumes around them, and the truth is, I horde them.

But this year, I'm making a change: I'm cleaning off my shelves and donating my old books to organizations who need them. While I might enjoy looking at the beautiful paperbacks and elegant hardcovers spilling out of my bookshelves and onto my floor, I know they could better serve one of the many different organizations that promote literacy, support prisoners, and help kids in need. If you have books that are in good condition — that is, you would buy it yourself or give it to someone — then you might want to consider doing the same thing. There's no telling how many readers you can help.

Ready to cross something off your spring cleaning to-do list and do some good while you're at it? Then check out one of these 11 organizations you can donate your old books to. It may be hard to let go, but look at it this way: you're helping people who deserve it, and making room for new novels. Now that's a win-win.

Your local library

According to the American Library Association, the first step to your books to your local library is contacting them. In general, local libraries accept donations that they can either add to their collection, or resell to raise funds for the library itself. Either way, you know your old book is being put to good use.

Most libraries have donation guidelines, and will even put out a call for books before a charity book sale. Check out your local branch to get details.

Book Aid International

Book Aid International has an ambitious vision it's been fighting for since the 1954: to help communities thrive by providing books, resources, training, and support to sub-Saharan Africa. While they don't accept second-hand book donations from individuals, Book Aid International is supported by several other organizations who do, including Book Harvest, Book Aid Charitable Trust, and Better World Books.

Speaking of which...

Better World Books

An online books collection and sales portal, Better World Books not only gathers donated books, but sells them and donates the profits to several different literary services around the world. Their site features over 8 million books, but they are always looking for good samaritans to keep the giving going.

Check out their website for complete donation details, and while you're there, pick up a new book or two. Hey, it's for a good cause.


A nation-wide organization with hundreds of programs that assist youth, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and special needs, and people post-incarceration, Goodwill is known for doing a lot of, well, good in the world. If you want to be a part of the process, you can donate your used books to local branches or schedule a pick up at your house.

Yes, doing good can be that easy.

Reader to Reader

A public charity "dedicated to bringing books, free of charge, to under-resourced school libraries and public libraries across the United States," Reader to Reader is a wonderful organization that seeks to serve the people in the country who need it most. That includes inner-city schools, poor rural towns, and even Native American reservations.

A multi-pronged donation program that has given over $50 million worth of books and computers to people in need, Reader to Reader accepts book donations, computer donations, and will also help you set up a book drive of your own. Find out more here.

Books Through Bars

Made up of several chapters around the country, Books Through Bars is a non-profit, volunteer organization who aims to assist incarcerated individuals through the power of books, knowledge, and change. What started as one individual answering a letter from a single prisoner has turned into a 27-year-old program that has changed thousands of lives.

To get involved, you can contact Books Through Bars about any books you want to donate and check out their most-wanted list online.

Books for Africa

An anti-famine program, Books for Africa uses literacy, education, and empowerment as a means to end hunger overseas. Since its founding in 1988, the impactful organization has shipped over 38 million books to 49 different countries, and last year alone, raised $2.5 million.

Get involved in making a global change by donating books to be sent to Africa, or by giving money that will help get them there.

Your local schools and day cares

If you want to find a way to directly impact your community, look no further than your local school and day care systems. Reach out to school librarians or childcare providers to see what kinds of books they are looking for, and chances are, you'll find the answer to be: a lot.

Round up your old children's books, or if you can't let go, buy new ones to give instead. Either way, you'll be helping put a book in the hands of a future book-lover just like you.

Children's Book Project

Speaking of future book-lovers, help the Children's Book Project get kids reading by donating your new and gently used books to the cause. Since 1992, they have donated over 2.5 million books for those in need in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Add your titles to the count and find out how to donate here.

Nearby hospitals and clinics

Like schools, daycares, and local libraries, local hospitals and clinics are a great place to reach out to when you want to get rid of some of your old books. Family and children wards are always looking for more material to help keep their patients, and their loved ones, happy, entertained, and occupied during their battle for a healthier life.

Contact your local medical centers to find out how you can help.

Operation Paperback

Operation Paperback has been providing books to military professionals, service members, support staff, and their families across the globe since 1999. Since its founding, it has sent over 2.2 million books to over 30 locations around the world, and has even started to provide books to wounded warrior programs and veterans hospitals.

To get involved, you can send your books directly to troops, veterans, or their families. Find out how to become a volunteer shipper here.