Jim Melcher’s Little Free Library at 44 Westwood Road in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

In earlier columns, we’ve discussed some options for recycling books that are falling apart, too worn to read, or otherwise of no further value. The question for today is what to do with books that are still usable, but no longer of interest to our personal libraries.

If the books have intrinsic monetary value, they can be sold on eBay, Amazon, or the like, or might possibly be purchased for resale by a local book dealer. The dealer is only going to offer something like 40% of what he/she feels can be ultimately obtained at retail, but that is actually not a bad deal. That’s really all you’re going to get on eBay or Amazon anyway, and to find the right buyer, the dealer might have to hold the thing for years. The dealer also has his or her business reputation on the line every time a book is sold, so has to deliver higher quality products, and back up the provenance of the book to a much higher standard than is required of more casual sellers.

I have usually decided that’s too much like work for too little return, so I look for outlets like local libraries holding summer book sales. The Topsham Public Library holds such sales, and accepts books from early spring at their collection bin next to the library itself. Patten Free Library, in Bath also holds sales, and one I personally support is the Laura Richards Public Library in Georgetown, for which books can be left at the Georgetown Historical Society whenever they are open. Other groups around the area also hold them, so you check with your town’s charitable organizations.

The second tier for donations is Twice-Told Tales, the used bookstore operated by the Friends of Curtis Library, near Hannaford’s on Maine Street in Brunswick. They take book donations and use their sales to support the Curtis Library. Goodwill also, of course, takes books, but they seem to work mostly with the more common mass market publications (the smaller paperbacks).

Finally, one of the more fun ways I have found is the Little Free Library approach. Those are the small, enclosed boxes springing up in so many people’s yards, where you can simply take any book that strikes your fancy, and leave another one (then, or at your next visit) for someone else to read. There are now about a dozen of these in the 2-mile radius around my home in which I regularly walk. I nearly always take a book or two with me when I walk, and I can truthfully say that I am a net contributor to all of the Little Free Libraries in my area. They let me share the kinds of reading I personally enjoy, and let me try new authors, or new genres with no risk of any kind. If I don’t like the book, I just pass it along. There is certainly no requirement that it go back to the same Little Free Library box in which I found it, and, I would argue, putting it in a different one helps spread the joy of reading.

Besides being a great way to get books re-used, the Little Free Library approach also encourages walking, and I know of no health care professional who will not strongly endorse that sort of activity!

The Recycle Bin is a weekly column on what to recycle, what not to recycle, and why, in Brunswick. The public is encouraged to submit questions by email to [email protected] Harry Hopcroft is a member of the Brunswick Recycling and Sustainability Committee.  This column is a product of his own research. 

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