Where To Donate Books In Chicago

Recycling often gets the spotlight, but it's last in the "reduce, reuse, recycle" motto for a reason. Reducing the amount of waste we produce, and reusing things to their fullest, are our first lines of defense in conserving natural resources.

For example, take books. Over 2.4 million printed books were sold in 2016. Add those to the millions of packed bookshelves in homes across the US, and we're talking about a massive amount of resources. Resources ripe for straight-up reuse.

Consider a used book's true value for a minute. Really! Because they're kind of the perfect reuse item. Whether donating or buying second-hand they hold the same appeal:

  •  Books tell of a time but are timeless. 
  • They're constructed for repeated use.  
  • Their words offer equal power to the first reader and the last. 

Ready to donate some books? Here's the inside scoop on four Chicago organizations putting used books to great use. 

1. Chicago Books to Women in Prison 

Operating since 2002, this Chicago non-profit ships books to incarcerated women across the U.S.  In 2016, they provided over 9,500 books to women in prison.  

Chicago Books to Women in Prison can only accept softbound books. They prefer books published within the last decade. New or nearly new books are appreciated, as some prisons require them. 

Donate these:

  • Large print fiction and non-fiction
  • Dictionaries - English, English/Spanish, Crossword puzzle dictionaries
  • Crafts (such as crochet, beading, card making and other paper crafts) 
  • Painting, Drawing, Calligraphy
  • Recovery and Addiction Books 
  • Mental Health, Depression, PTSD
  • A wide range of Legal Books
  • Blank Journals

They also have a regularly updated 'Special Requests' and 'Amazon Wishlist' for books that are rarely donated but have a high, sometimes urgent demand. Religion and law-themed books are popular.

Not these: 

  • Hardbound books (though there are exceptions for sellable quality books)
  • English fiction (except in large print), because they receive a steady flow 
  • Textbooks more than 5 years old 

How it works: 

DROP OFF:  4511 N. Hermitage Ave. (map)
HOURS: 2p-5p Saturdays and Sundays
DONATION RECEIPT: Upon Request
WEBSITE: www.chicagobwp.org

2. Open Books

Through the sales of donated books online and at their two brick-and-mortar locations, Open Books funds community literacy programs. Their roving literacy workshops have reached tens of thousands of readers in under-resourced neighborhoods throughout Chicagoland.  

The book department also produces zero waste, finding a home for every book through resale, donation, or recycling as a last resort. 

Donate these:  

  • Sellable books in good condition
  • LPs, CDs, and DVDs (no VHS tapes) 

Not these:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Thesauruses
  • Sets of law books 
  • Magazines/journals
  • Pre-college (K-12) textbooks

How it works:

DROP OFF:  Donations of more than five boxes need to be dropped off at the Pilsen store. 

West Loop
645 W Couch Pl. (map) - Drop box at Desplaines between Randolph and Lake St., behind  the West Loop store

Pilsen
905 W. 19th St. Chicago, IL 60608 (map) - Drop slot in front of the building. 

River North
802 W. Superior Chicago, IL 60642 (map)Drop box at corner of Halsted + Superior

Hillside
5979 Butterfield Rd. Hillside, IL 60162 (map) Drop box

Northbrook
2727 Shermer Rd. Northbrook, IL 60062  (map) - Drop box

DROP OFF HOURS: 24/7
DONATION RECEIPT: In store and online
WEBSITE: open-books.org 

3.  Turning The Page

A D.C. original, now with two offices in Chicago, Turning The Page (TTP) supports students, families, and schools by providing home-learning resources and activities, along with welcoming spaces for building relationships with other parents and teachers.

The proceeds from the book donations they receive help fund their programs. 

Donate these:  

  • Sellable books in good condition
  • Any genre, all ages (includes fiction, non-fiction, dictionaries, thesaurus, coffee table, picture books, cookbooks etc) 
  • Vinyl records, CDs, and DVDs (including audio books, workout tapes, discs sets).  Note: check that the CDs/DVDs match their cases before donating. 

Not these:

  • Magazines
  • Periodicals
  • VHS or Cassette tapes 

How it works: 

FREE PICK UP -  for large donations (4/5 or more bankers boxes - approx. 100+ books) TTP will pick up in Chicago for free, outside of city limits is decided on a per case bases. Contact: Jacob Dimuzio at (773) 362-8598 Ext 207  OR  jdimuzio@turningthepage.com 

DROP OFF - two locations:  

Block 37 in the Loop 
108 N State Street (map)
Drop off Mon-Fri 10AM-8PM and Sat and Sunday 11AM-6PM. 

Atrium at the Thompson Center
100 W Randolph (map)  
Open Mon-Fri 8AM – 6PM, closed Sat & Sun

DONATION RECEIPT: Yes.  Email:  jdimuzio@turningthepage.com 
WEBSITE: turningthepage.org

What about books in poor condition?

Sometimes, books are beyond donating. If they're too waterlogged, faded, or torn apart to read, books can be upcycled into some pretty clever things, or they can be recycled. 

In Chicago, paperback books can be recycled straight in the blue cart. For hardback books, the covers need to be removed before the pages can be recycled.  

Wondering what else can be recycled in your Blue Cart?  View the guide.

Sources:
Association of American Publishers 

Updated Oct. 19, 2018

Back

Feedback:

In partnership with

City of Chicago

Stay informed.

Get notified about updates to your city's recycling program.