Does anyone know how to get free or almost free books for your library ? By books, I mean paper ones not ebooks.


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Dear Eva Nell and Bev,

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

I can' wait to get started on yours and every one else's ideas and suggestions.

Sorry for not getting back with you sooner but have been out of town.


When I started my church library a few years ago, I searched high and low for inexpensive (or free) sources of books to fill my empty shelves. Here's what I came up with:  I wrote letters and emails to about 20 of my favorite Christian authors requesting a donated, autographed book for our new library. I also asked for donations within the church, carefully wording my request to align with my selection policy ("All gifts of pre-owned materials must be in proper condition...gently used, no more than 15 years old.  Used donations may be added to our collection, disbursed to mission locations, or other churches needing resources. Donated materials may also be used as trade-ins for other church-related books at local public libraries.")  I attended the spring and fall state and regional library conferences for church librarians, because they always have a book swapping table where churches can bring their weeded or duplicate books to trade.  As I began getting donated books that I chose not to keep, I recycled them in ways that allowed me to get books I could use. One way was to visit the paperback swap section of our local public library. They also have a 25-cent book sale shelf that I frequented. Another way was to list my unwanted books on a website called Bookmooch where other members requested my books, which earned me points I could use to get books from other members. Cost of postage was minimal on these, since I used media mail rates. One last way I've gained some great deals is to recruit a few ladies in the church to scout for Christian books at garage sales and flea markets. I don't have a lot of time to shop, but there are 3-4 ladies who love to find a good deal, and they frequent these sales, so I tapped in to their bargain-hunting skills, and it's been a success.

Dear Melissa,

Thanks for some very good ideas. Thanks also for taking the time to help me with this.



    Our children's library expanded after a re-start about 6 years ago with 625 items that were there. When I got involved in the library I asked to automate it, and I wanted it to be able to meet the needs of our entire church family--nursery to senior citizen. Since the budget was quite small, we put the word out to the church family that we were accepting contributions of used items. To date, our church family has been very generous, plus I have been the recipient of additional donations from my childhood church that they were unable to use.  We are currently at 3500+ items in our small space, with approximately 2/3 of this amount being those donations.  There are another 650+ items in boxes awaiting when we can expand. Anything that comes in and is a duplication or of lesser quality or content than we desire, we pass on to another church library to use.  Should it be something we wouldn't put in our own church library, we take it to the Salvation Army.

    Donations are a wonderful thing, but there can be some drawbacks if you don't have a policy in place to qualify what you will accept. I believe suggestions on these 'qualifiers' have been listed already. Another possibility is that you will receive a book in a series and it won't be the first of the series, or perhaps the next one you would want to fill out the series.  That is where used books at Amazon come is so handy.  I have been able to fill out a series by purchasing the missing ones through Amazon at a very reasonable price.  Again, mention has been made of being mindful of the history of the seller, but I have had only experience where one item was less desirable than advertised. 

    I suggest a bulletin ad mentioning that you will accept donations (pending approval by anyone necessary on your church staff), that your donation policy will be on display in the library, and then where they can put the donations.  Pray for the Lord to spur your church family to give items they have at home and may never use again. They can bless others with their donations. Then sit back and watch the blessings pour in. You will be as amazed as I have been. 




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