Donations Policies: A Matter of Give and Take

Donations Policies: A Matter of Give and Take

Posted on Monday October 26, 2009 at 01:40PM

Hi all,

I’m writing this while in Calgary for NetSpeed ’09.  I’ll tell you some of the things I’m learning here next week. For now, the following is an issue that has cropped up a few times recently, so I thought I should address it.
Donations Policies: A Matter of Give and Take
Sometimes receiving book or materials donations from your patrons is like Christmas: you open a box and you see everything shiny and new. Oh the delight! Other times, it’s like getting coal in your stockings for being bad.  You open a box to a smell of book mould and tattered copies that no one wants to touch, let alone pick up and read. What do you do with such offerings?
If you have a strong policy in place, you’re sitting pretty. If not, you could be a little stuck. What if you put the donation on the book sale table and the patron protests? What if the best place for them is in the trash? You don’t want to anger or hurt the feelings of patrons who feel that they are being generous, but at the same time, you don’t want junk in your collection.
The best solution is to have a board approved policy in place that donors must sign when they drop off their donations. If you can post it on your website, even better.   Basically, all your policy needs to say is that once you have received a donation, you are free to do with it as you see fit, whether it’s to catalogue, sell, or dispose of. Some libraries specify in their policies that they don’t give tax receipts for books/materials donations; while others point out that they do not accept any item over five years old!
The best policy in this situation is to have a policy. That way if people complain, you can always blame the policy, and you don’t end up looking like the bad guy!
Here are two donations policies that I was able to locate after a quick search. You may want to find others to use as a template for your own policy.
Good luck!

Author: Northern Lights Library System


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