Let’s talk about BOOKS.
St. Thomas Public Library is full of books, but not just the books you see on our shelves – we get a lot of gently used books donated to us from members of the community. We truly appreciate that people think of us as a place to support with donations, but the truth is that we simply cannot take all the donated books and put them on our shelves. Sometimes we don’t have enough room! Sometimes we already have a copy of the book in our collection, and don’t need a second one! Sometimes the book is older and out of date, or is in too poor condition. For times like these, we are happy to lean on our fundraising group, Friends of St. Thomas Public Library.
The Friends of St. Thomas Public Library are a volunteer group who help raise funds for the library and promote the library as a cultural institution in the community. They began in 1994, and have so far donated over $200,000 to St. Thomas Public Library. They accept donated books on behalf of the library, and have a permanent book shop located at the Elgin Mall. Many of the donated books we receive at the main library end up being brought to the Friends’ Shop, so that they can be sold. All the proceeds from sales are distributed back to the Library, to support collections, programs, and services. You can learn more about the Friends’ of the Library here: https://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca/friends/
St. Thomas Public Library buys nearly 10,000 new items every year – but our physical building does not expand accordingly! That’s why we have to be mindful about the books we remove from our collection – if 10,000 new books come in, then a similar amount of old books must come out! We use a variety of methods to select the books we discard; we look at things like poor condition or damage, whether or not anyone has checked out the book recently, how many checkouts it has had since we bought it, etc. All of this is taken into consideration. But at the end of the day, that’s a lot of books to get rid of! We send the books in the best condition over to the Friends of the Library Shop at the Mall, so that they can sell them and generate revenue for us. But a lot of the items we pull from our shelves won’t make for great local sales – so we use a company called Better World Books as a backup plan.
Better World Books is a company that works with libraries to make good use of the books they don’t need any more. They send us boxes and shipping labels, and all we have to do is pack up the books we aren’t sending to the Friends’ Shop, and ship them off to Better World Books instead (shipping is even free!) Once Better World Books receives our boxes, the items are sorted and scanned, and each saleable item is listed on over 50 channels for sale online. If an item is determined not to be “saleable”, meaning it isn’t a good candidate to sell online, Better World Books has a recycling program set-up. They never, ever, throw away a book. In fact, when we log in to their site with our Library Account, we can see exactly how many of our books have been recycled, and see a real-time review of the positive impact we are having on the environment.
Below I’ve included a screenshot from our Better World Books account, where you can see how many of our books have been reused or recycled, and how many trees we have saved by using their recycling program!
We have only been using Better World Books for a little over 2 months now, and already we can see great results!
If you have any questions or comments about how St. Thomas Public Library deals with discarded library books, or if you would like to learn more about the Better World Books metrics seen here, please send an email to: info@stthomaspubliclibrary.