Answered By: Ask-a-Librarian
Last Updated: Jan 26, 2018     Views: 906

Thank you for your kind wish to donate books. We hope this will satisfactorily explain our policy of not simply adding all donations to our collections.

We know that, for avid readers, there will always be titles that Montgomery County Public Libraries does not own. There is no public library in the country that can hope to meet every borrower's every need with its collection. We provide a variety of well-chosen materials to help the meet learning and recreational needs of as many people as possible in our diverse county.

In recent budget years, Montgomery County has selected, purchased, cataloged, processed, and made available on our library shelves and through our library branches about 15,000 new titles each year and hearly 300,000 new copies.

The cost of adding a new item to our collections is estimated to be about $20 to $40 an item, no matter whether we purchase the book or whether it is donated.

We take the time to evaluate the potential interest in the title as well as its general appropriateness in scholarship, format, and presentation for inclusion in a broad public library collection. We then provide enough copies to meet the demand.  In a county of 980,000 with 20 full-service branches, we rarely add fewer than 5-10 copies of any given title.

We then catalog the item and process it with a barcode, call number label, and property stamps so that it can be checked out by our customers. We ship the book to our branches, where copies are displayed or shelved in the most appropriate spots for our customers to find them.

Because we invest these kinds of resources in building and maintaining our library collections we must be selective--not only in how we spend our limited resources for purchases but in what we decide will be offered a piece of the finite shelf space in our libraries.

While many, many books and other items are donated each year to our collections by donors who hope to advance their own special political, religious, or ideological interests, many are simply donated because they were enjoyed by a reader.

Dozens of individual titles donated to us individually would require time and attention that we simply can't provide. We hope you will understand when we say quite sincerely that we are grateful for your donations and delighted to be able to pass them along to our Friends of the Library, whose booksales and bookstores strongly support our programs, collections and services.