July 23, 2019

Last week our county library system held its annual book giveaway, where they take the books they’re weeding out of their collection and offer them to the public for free. I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea this event existed. The only reason I found out about it this year was that I was browsing a community forum and saw an announcement about the event.

The picture below shows only about half of the books being given away. I took this photo on day two of the giveaway. When I left at the end of my lunch break, they were unloading more books.

Boxes of library books being given away

As with similar book giveaways I’ve attended, there was no organization beyond each box containing either mostly fiction or mostly non-fiction. I only checked about one-third of the boxes before having to leave. 

To my surprise, there were a number of fairly recent books by best-selling authors. I’d thought only old books that no one checked out, or books in bad condition, were being given away. But after the event, I read the library's development plan and learned that books could also be weeded out for other reasons. Several of the bestsellers I saw at the giveaway have multiple other copies for checkout within the system. Getting rid of a copy or two gives the library room for new books without eliminating the book from the collection.

I picked up a hard copy of Patricia Briggs’ Fair Game, in excellent condition, even though I own the paperback because I prefer hardback for books on my keeper shelf.

I also came away with a sunburn on the back of my neck and shoulders, despite a commenter on the forum warning people about the sun and heat. In my defense, I hadn’t planned on stopping by that day and so hadn’t put on sunblock before I left the office. Ah, well. At least the burn wasn't so bad that it hurt much.

I wanted to go back for the remaining two days, but I didn’t want to add too many books to my home collection. I’m pleased that I left with only four books on the day I did attend; three fiction and one non-fiction. Too much of the non-fiction being given away was on subjects I wasn’t interested in or was too out of date to be useful. Probably why it was being weeded out of the library.

Despite what a commenter on the community site said, the library’s collection development plan does not call for the books to be recycled after the giveaway is over. Instead, the books are donated to a variety of organizations and groups. That’s a relief. While I saw people leaving with bags and boxes full of books, I can’t imagine all the books would have been picked up by the end of the last day.

Does your library have a similar event? What are your favorite books to look for at such an event? New books or books by familiar authors?

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