What do you do with old encyclopedias?
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I'm wondering if anyone else out there has this problem, and, if so, what do you do about it?
Our library doesn't accept donations of old magazines or encyclopedias, but that doesn't stop people from trying to leave them with us. Their major issue is that they feel these books (usually from the 1970's or earlier) are still good and still contain useful information so they don't want to just "throw them out". Our local recycling center won't accept them unless the covers are removed which, for a 30 volume encyclopedia, can be quite a task.
I'm wondering if anyone knows of any other (preferably earth-friendly) ways of disposing of the encyclopedias because people seem absolutely appalled when I suggest that they should probably just throw away their 1954 Britannica.
Maybe they can be sold or given away at the library, or donated to some organization.
The public library I used to work for would have us recycle unwanted books when we couldn't get rid of them. Taking off covers (AND the glue in the binding) is a pain, though. Some workers had to wear gloves. I can see why you want to find another way to dispose of them.
Oh, people just don't listen, do they? And they seem to think it's a sin to throw away a book. My library has this problem too but we're a special library so much smaller scale than you deal with. We accept the stuff (telling the donor that if we can't use it or give it away we will dispose of it) and then throw it away.
I also volunteer for an annual charity booksale and we say right up front on all the ads: Please DON'T donate National Geographics, encyclopedias, Readers Digest books or out-dated reference materials. Every year we throw out tons even before the sale. I have no idea why people think donating the manual for their old computer mouse (and not even including the mouse itself) is helpful. Or DOS manuals from the 1990s. Or their accounting text from university in the 1970s. Gah.
Sorry, I know this is not helpful - just venting and sympathy...
The guy from the first site says, "I am interested in older hardback books that look better than they read. I prefer books with strong type on the cover and spine. Older encyclopedias with gilt type on the spines and embossed covers are always great. I will pay shipping to get certain books by arrangement."
How cool! I kind of want one for myself now...
Thanks for sharing, timepiece.
A free shelf is a wonderful thing. We accepted donations of books and magazines, many of them would end up in the Friends book shelf. But the magazines, encyclopedias, and just plain dirty books were put on a free shelf. And peole loved it!
If your library does book sales, you might want to advertise/label these sorts of items as craft materials. In addition to the bookcase idea timepiece shared, there are a lot of instructions on sites like craftster for things like the purses made from books (for example), which require sturdy hardcover volumes. Lots of people are making altered books now as well, and they need sturdy books for that.
I think that some of the items that people donate would work better as raw materials for craft projects than read for their (out-of-date) information. For example, the library in my former town always had a box of outdated maps, and I collect those for various projects. One day a man came into the previous school library where I worked and was going on about how kids these days don't learn geography and so forth. He made a big show of donating a large stack of maps for this purpose - from the 1950's! I probably don't have to tell you that our social studies teachers didn't want to teach with maps of countries that don't even exist anymore (this was in 2007), so those went right home with me.
Also, I have heard (although I have no idea where I saw this) that there's a library that was cutting outdated hardcover books into different shapes and selling them for crafting purposes. Does anyone know more about this?
I've been tempted to use some of our discarded books to make a book lamp, but I've just never found the time. Those would be neat for the library silent auctions!
I've seen unwanted donations like this - suitably sealed up, re-covered and labelled - being re-used as bookends/shelf dividers within a school library. Works pretty well for, say, fiction collections organized alphabetically by author.
Anyway, just another idea that might keep them out of the waste stream for a while. (Possibly the encyclopedias would be too large for this though).
Thanks for the suggestions! One of my colleagues told me about someone who takes the pages out of old books and makes purses with the cover. I thought that was kind of cool too. I'll have to find out how she does it. I never thought of using unwanted donations as craft material.
I don't know how you'd get into contact with anyone specifically, but I do know that interior decorators use older encyclopedias and such to stage and decorate with. It is quite popular for interior designers to buy these books for the sheer "look" of them. My mom loves to decorate and one year, she wiped out the Readers Digest Condensed Books at the public library's old book sale.
Pardon the intrusion (I'm not a librarian), but I think one innovative use would be to slice out the pages and use them to paper a bathroom. Seriously. Since people call it the "reading room" anyway, it would add a touch of whimsey and novelty, and give people the opportunity to lean something whilst they are taking care of business....
(Some sort of clear overcoating/sealant would probably be needed, and would give the effect a nice glossy quality.)
We recently got rid of 2 sets and I listed them on Craigslist. They were claimed and given to happy homes within a week.
We've found that old encyclopedias are hot items in the local church yard sales among our immigrant population, most of whom are Latin American or Southeast Asian. I asked a Honduran gentleman what he wanted with a 1970 edition of World Book Encyclopedias. He said that it would help the family learn English, kids and grandmas included. We sold the set for $5 and another set of 1957 Funk & Wagnells for the same amount to a family from Colombia for pretty much the same reason.
I think the book lamp would be much better with a lamp shade bade out of book pages, rather than the standard Target lampshade.
Also, my parents found a great home for their two sets of Encyclopedias as well as their set of News Annuals to a family who is home schooling their kids.
In the UK there is (or used to be) a style of pub/restaurant decoration in which old hard cover books, and other 'old-fashioned' paraphernalia, arranged dustily on hard to reach shelves and nooks, were used to establish a mood of maybe traditionalism, maybe scholastic probity, or maybe just kitsch.
Might be worth a few calls to interior designers? I hate to see any book thrown away!
Thinking even more laterally, into recycling, uniform-thickness encyclopedia volumes could be ideal for constructing sandwich-structure floors with sound-deadening properties, or even walls with fire-retarding (ablative) characteristics!
A library I used to work out had success with their friends group selling some old books sets as a weekend auction (usually comparing prices on amazon). Might want to check if you got a collectible, as some old encyclopedias are.
Otherwise, the pictures are great for craft projects.
I know this is an older message, but for any interested SCARCE bookrescue program in glen Ellyn takes all older books, encyclopedias, and National Geographic magazines. We recycle them to third world countries, or at the very worst, use a high tech recycling company that chips hardboard books and results in 99% paper production out of recycled books. I know many Libraries refuse them, but please refer them to us as we do not want anymore paper going into landfills. Ken.
#18 - could you put some contact info on your profile page to help us find you if we think we might want to use your services. Thanks.
They are great for stuff like this:
Well, recycle - which here means tearing off all the covers - a great task for just the right 11 year old boy. eek
Toss them down a manhole when no one's looking.
Edited to clarify: I meant the encyclopedias, not the 11 year old boys.
I am interested in doing this. COuld you please post some more info on how we can do this as I have a nice set of Americanas.
Are you kidding?? These old encyclopedias are still on my shelves...can't get the school district to cough up the money to update them. The other day a kid looked up Germany, and discovered there were two of them. 1988 New Book of Knowledge. My newest is a 1991 Americana, which I snagged from a public library that was getting rid of them. Discarded a 1977 World Book set last year. Gave them to the custodian with instructions they were to immediately go into the dumpster. The cafeteria lady saw them and took them. Sigh.
This is an issue that drives me crazy. Our policy is that we do not accept encyclopedias or textbooks. We used to when I took over donations and after about 2 years I noticed they were not selling and taking up valuable space. Sometimes they still get in though and if that happens they go to recycling.
The dime room of my local library has had boxes of a 1960's era World Book encyclopedia taking up floor space for some weeks now. Save for the unlikely event that Nicholson Baker happens to wander through, they will probably sit there until the floor collapses.
I know that the internet is not the be all and end all - but #28 would you consider recommending Britannica Online? The full version is expensive, of course, but you can get a lot of good info free.
Incorrect information is not information - it is junk.
We just weeded our 1988 World Book (we're a high school). I sent out a message to teachers in the off chance that one of them might be able to use it in their classroom and received (almost immediately) three replies!
We actually have free access to Britannica Online, and it's great, and I teach my kids to use it also. The problem is that I have only 2 student computers in the library, making it impossible to teach an entire class. I have to teach that in the computer lab with the computer teacher; I also have to team teach with her to teach the kids how to use the OPAC. Better than nothing, but not ideal. A new library is underway sometime this year; hopefully next year I'll have A)new encyclopedias, and B) enough student computers to teach in my own room. Crossing fingers. :)
I've got some lovely 1950s encyclopaeidas that are really beautiful and have some historical interest but alas I don't have room to store them. Not sure what to do now, as I don't want to make them all into handbags!!
Tear off the binding and recycle them.
I'm not sure what else could be done with them. If you are artistic, you could try to create something out of them I suppose.
This reference desk made of books comes to mind.
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