There are many people around the world who do not have easy access to books. An unfortunate number are in our own country, but there are many others. Always and above all, please help your local organizations first. Schools and libraries as well as homeless shelters (especially ones that focus on families), jails and nonprofit organizations that support their work through used book sales are all good candidates for your donations. Please consider donating your unwanted books, but be sure to check with the organization to see what kind of books they want. Books should be in good condition.
While we have not checked these organizations and schools, and cannot vouch for their honesty in getting the books where they say they will, we nevertheless believe that they are good. Though this list is updated periodically to weed out any potential problem places and add quality new ones that come to our attention, please do any further research that will net you the information you want before donating.
Please help us to help them: If you know of any other organizations seeking donations, let us know about them. Once we have verified that they are a quality organization, we will be happy to include them on this page. Send their name and contact information to BiblioBuffet.
African Library Project
Their goal is to increase literacy in Africa by creating and improving small libraries. So far they have completed 36 libraries in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Cameron, Lesotho and Nigeria; opened co-operative ‘100 libraries’ in Botswana; created 30 partnerships; and donated 21,000 books—all on a volunteer basis. Schools in Africa are matched with U.S.-based schools and organizations that agree to hold a book drive to collect gently used books, and that school or organization agrees to cover the cost of shipping. You can help by organizing a book drive, donating books or contributing money (100% of which goes to purchase books and cover shipping).
American Library Association
This is a site with information and links to finding libraries in your area needing books as well as organizations that accept book or money donations.
Book Aid International
A British organization, they put books into the hands of the world’s most disadvantaged readers in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Palestine by providing over half a million books and journals each year to libraries, hospitals, refugee camps and schools. The majority of their support goes to rural and urban libraries which are free and accessible to everyone.
This organization, which focuses on kids helping kids in southern California, recycles good children’s books through student-run book drives. Originally founded by an eight-year-old boy, it assists inner city schools, youth centers, homeless shelters, family literacy centers, after-school enrichments programs, children's group homes and juvenile detention facilities. One hundred and seventy thousand student volunteers have collected, sorted and personally delivered more than 1.4 million donated books to create quality libraries where none existed before.
Books for Africa
They have a section on their site with guidelines for acceptable books and magazines, but what they specially need are children’s or young adult’s hardcover storybooks; college textbooks in all subjects; science and math books; and dictionaries. It costs BFA approximately 38 cents to send a book so if you can add a contribution to cover the cost of each book you donate it would be appreciated.
Books for America
Books for America is a small non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to promote literacy, life-long learning and understanding by distributing donated new and used books of all types and other forms of educational media to organizations serving disadvantaged communities and individuals. The majority of their current programs focus on collecting books for children, but recipients include adult and youth literacy programs, youth centers, transitional homeless shelters, hospitals, inner-city and rural schools, military bases, assisted living communities for seniors, veterans hospitals, women's shelters, hospices and other such organizations.
Book Wish Foundation
A relatively new organization, Book Wish was founded in late 2007 in response to a Washington Post article describing the lack of books in a Chad refugee camp. Their mission is to provide reading relief for people in crisis. “Reading relief,” they write, is a concept much broader than providing books. It encompasses all of the aid for community institutions and individuals that makes reading possible . . . support for libraries, informal literacy and language programs, and vision care. And their Wish Lists reflect these specific needs to allow for targeted giving, while their focus on long-term crisis situations means that reading relief, not normally a high priority item for refugee camps, is met by this 100 percent volunteer organization.
Bridge to Asia
This organization is seeking English-language college, graduate and professional-level textbooks in a variety of subjects, journals and magazines, reference works. Contents take priority over condition. Used books are as desirable as new books if the information is current and their condition presentable.
Bring Me a Book
This organization’s mission is to “provide easy access to the best children’s books and inspire reading aloud to children.” They do that through three programs. The Bookcase Library Program provides bookcases of age-appropriate hardback books in multiple language to pre-schools, childcare center, elementary schools, and community centers. The First Teachers Program works with parents, childcare providers and teachers to develop individualized solutions that overcome the challenge of daily read-aloud sessions. The Book Bag Library Program provides companies and nonprofit organizations with lending libraries of books and audio recordings for access to families with children ages 0-13.
Camel Book Drive
A camel-borne library? Yes, it really does exist. The actual “library” operates in Kenya’s isolated Northeastern Province near Somalia bringing books to semi-nomadic people. When the camel arrives, the books are spread out on grass mats and the library patrons, barefoot and jostling with goats and donkeys, gather to choose their books. But the African bush is as hard on books as the nomadic lifestyle is on people, and more books are needed. English language books for children, fiction for young adults and adults, and nonfiction in categories such as astronomy, geography and history are especially welcome.
Directory of Book Donation Programs
Though it hasn't been updated in several years, this is a fantastic list of web sites and organizations needing books. Be sure to read through their list to ensure a good match with your books and interests.
First Book: Do You Remember the Magic of Your First Book?
First Book gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books by providing an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in community-based mentoring, tutoring and family literacy programs. Founded in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 40 million books to children in over 1300 communities around the country.
The Libri Foundation
The Libri Foundation was established in 1989 to help rural libraries acquire new, quality, hardcover children's books they could not otherwise afford to buy. Since October 1990, the Foundation has donated over $2,300,000 worth of new children's books to more than 2,000 libraries in 48 states.
A non-profit, grassroots program founded in 1999, it collects gently used books and sends them to American troops deployed overseas.
Reader To Reader
One of the best organizations around—it has my highest recommendation—Reader to Reader provides books, free of charge, to school libraries in the U.S.’s poorest communities. They supply books covering a myriad of subjects for all reading levels, from elementary to university. This organization researches public school information, looking for schools with below average test scores, low per student spending, and a high percentage of students from low-income families. They work with the schools’ librarians, alerting them to new collections of books that are available and shipping them the books they request free of charge. Newly added schools get an immediate infusion of 300-400 books. They then receive a monthly shipment of books in order to continually upgrade their resources. Currently, more than 300 schools benefit from this organization’s efforts. Please help this organization if you can.
Room to Read
This is also a fantastic program, though it focuses on the world rather than America. Its mission is to build educational infrastructures in the developing world, and it does this by employing local teams in various communities who know their community’s needs. Their five core programs include the Reading Room, Local Language Publishing, School Room, Room to Grow Girls’ Scholarships, and Computer & Language Room.