What happens when the library gets rid of a book?
A library book may land in some unexpected places after it leaves the browsing shelves.
Elkhart Public Library has heard from as far away as Australia, asking how did this book, with EPL stickers, end up here? Is it stolen? Lost?
The answer is it was sold. Like many of our withdrawn books, they are sold through the Friends of the Elkhart Public Library.
The Friends collect withdrawn library items – not just books, but CDs, audiobooks, and art prints, too. They organize them and sell them at their monthly book sale or through a partner. Participating outlets include Fables Books in Goshen and online seller Better World Books.
Items are withdrawn for reasons such low checkout frequency or – in the case of reference items – out-of-date materials like test prep books or software instruction books.
When Fables or Better World Books sells an item from the Friends, a percentage of it comes back to the group. Those funds are then put back into the library through grant requests supporting programs and supplies. Past grants have included author visits, programming support and more.
“It’s good inexpensive reading for (the buyer) and it helps us,” says Larry Ford, a Friends of EPL volunteer.
According to Friends president Libby Eisele, they have more items than ever to sell.
“Between the renovations, pandemic and (collection updating), it‘s made for a lot of items to sell,” says Libby. “You never know what people are looking for.”
Friends volunteers such as Larry scan withdrawn items to check whether Fables or Better World Books is interested in selling. If they are, it’s packaged and sent to them. If not, it’s put on the shelves for the Friends’ monthly sales at the Downtown library.
Libby says many great former library items are being sold at each of the places.
“You never know what people are looking for,” she says. “There are gems to be found.”