God places value on knowledge, as we see in many biblical passages like this verse from Proverbs:
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! —Proverbs 16:16, KJV
Books are an important way to pass along knowledge and also to provide entertainment. You can support literacy and learning by heading up a book drive for your local library.
Your book drive may serve one of three main purposes. First, it may be an effort to add more books to the library’s collection. Ask your local branch for a list of recommended topics and titles for donation. Having guidelines in place keeps people from donating outdated and inappropriate books.
Some libraries have specific methods of purchasing books and don’t put donations out on their shelves. In this case, the purpose of your drive can be to collect books for a sale. Once you sell the books, you can give the money to the library to purchase more items or put to another good use, like furnishing or equipment.
The third option is to hold the book drive in partnership with your library for the benefit of a third party. For example, some prisons and juvenile detention facilities accept book donations for inmates.
Organizations like Operation Paperback and Books for Soldiers provide books to our troops overseas and soldiers in hospitals. Places like battered women’s shelters often welcome donations, especially of children’s books, and teachers love books for their classrooms. You won’t have any problem finding a group to accept the books.
If your local library has a “Friends of the Library” group, they’ll make great partners for your book drive. They’ll know what the branch needs and can help with the drive and book sale. If you don’t have an active group in your area, you can still handle the project with your own volunteers.
Here are three simple steps for holding a successful book drive to help your library:
1) Select Your Drop-off Points
The library is, of course, a logical place, but designate other convenient locations. For example, you can put the suggested book list in your church bulletin and ask for donations on a certain date.
Your local bookstore might be willing to set up a collection bin, and if you include a list of selected books, people can buy and donate them immediately. Other shops and community centers are also possibilities. Have volunteers check the drop-off points regularly and bring the donated books to your storage spot, which could be at the library, your church or anywhere else you can find the room.
2) Publicize Your Book Drive
Many grocery stores, coffee shops and other businesses have special bulletin boards for flyers advertising local events.
Send out a press release to your local newspapers and even to TV stations. Many promote local happenings during news shows or station breaks and on their websites. Make sure to leave flyers in the library itself, and ask it to post the information on its website and Facebook page. Encourage people in your social network to post on their pages, too. While people do read flyers, social media is the fastest and most powerful tool for spreading the word.
3) Sort the Books, Either as They Come in or at the End of the Drive
The way in which you sort them depends on where they’re going. If they’re for the library’s collection, the librarian will give you guidelines. If they’re for a book sale or being sent somewhere as a donation, you’ll most likely want to sort them by topic and separate the hardbacks and paperbacks.
Once the drive is over and the books are ready to go to their new home, deliver or send them to the library or group. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment, and your branch or charity of choice will be able to spread the gift of reading with the new materials.