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 trash 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 three Chicago organizations putting used books to great use.
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 soft bound books. They prefer books published within the last decade. New or nearly new books are appreciated, as some prisons require them.
- 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
- 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
With books stacked from foot to ceiling (and library ladders!), you might end up buying more books than you donate at this popular bookstore. If you want to avoid the temptation, they offer free pickup for larger collections.
Your donations to Pilsen Community books are either donated directly to Pilsen area schools or sold to purchase new books for Pilsen classrooms. Teachers get to hand-pick the books they receive.
- Adult and children's books
- Books in very good condition
- Pre-collegiate textbooks
- Cigarette smoke soaked books
How it works:
3. 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.
- Sellable books in good condition
- LPs, CDs, and DVDs (no VHS tapes)
- Sets of law books
- Pre-college (K-12) textbooks
How it works:
DROP OFF: Open Books has drop boxes at their West Loop and Pilsen stores, and at several other locations around the city. Donations of more than five boxes need to be dropped off at the Pilsen store.
645 W Couch Pl. (map) - Drop box off at Desplaines between Randolph and Lake St., behind the West Loop store
905 W. 19th St. Chicago, IL 60608 (map) - Drop slot in front of the building.
802 W. Superior Chicago, IL 60642 (map) - Drop box at corner of Halsted + Superior
5979 Butterfield Rd. Hillside, IL 60162 (map) - Drop box
2727 Shermer Rd. Northbrook, IL 60062 (map) - Drop box
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.