Too Much Of A Good Thing: What Some Phoenix-Area Libraries Do With Overflow Books

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 1:21pm
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018 - 10:56am
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Mesa Public Library is holding a two-day sale of books, magazines, DVDs and vinyl records. Some books are priced at just 50 cents, a low price that reveals a big problem for libraries: book overload.

“We have a ton of inventory and we’re just really motivated to get it into people’s hands,” said Janice Dell, volunteer coordinator for Mesa Public Libraries.

Thousand of books are donated to Arizona libraries, but many are dated and would take up valuable storage space. In 2015, a California library was the source of national outrage when they announced their plan to toss hundreds of thousands of books that weren't being checked out.

“No one likes the idea of books being thrown away,” said Lee Franklin of Phoenix Public Library.

To avoid this, Phoenix Public Library partners with a volunteer organization that sorts through and sells the books that don’t go into circulation.

“So if you come across a big box of books and you don't want to throw it away, reach out to your Phoenix Public Library,” Franklin said.

Mesa Public Library’s solution is to hold these large sale events every year. They also donate books to local nonprofits and schools.

“So any nonprofit or school in Mesa can write to us and we donate a ton to them and then even to outside Mesa,” said Dell.

However, some books are just too dated or beat up to even fetch 50 cents.

“Libraries actually are one of the biggest recyclers in our society,” said Franklin. “Because we keep these materials coming in and out of our collections in a variety of different ways.”

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