Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting the Donations You Need

Welcome to part two of our series on improving your library or Friends of the Library book sale! Today we will discuss how to get the community donations you need to sustain book sales.

Libraries and Friends of the Library groups work together to sell weeded materials as well as books donated by the community in order to financially support library programs. Each relationship is unique to each library; some FOL's only sell donations and some sell a combination.Whatever the situation, almost all FOL's face issues related to donations. Sorting, organizing, recycling, and storage space are necessary when dealing with donations, and can pose a huge hurdle to many small libraries and FOL groups. One way to diminish these problems is by communicating specific book needs to the community. By telling the public what sells best at sales (and thus best supports their library), you can cut volunteer hours as well as boxes of useless materials from your storage closets.

First, you must determine what types of books you do and do not want. If your library has the capacity to handle all types of books, that's great! But many have space restrictions, so limiting what comes in can help. At your next sale, pay attention to what sells best. Generally the most popular books are children’s, popular fiction (NYT Bestsellers), and genre-specific non-fiction (cookbooks, craft books, nature books). Sometimes it is easier to look at what never sells, and simply ask that donations of those types of books are taken elsewhere, like a local thrift store or recycling company. Computer books, textbooks, law books, and magazines are all materials that go out of date quickly. These are less likely to sell at your book sale, and more likely to take up precious storage space following a sale.

Once you have decided what types of books you want you must get the information out there. For all book donation needs, communication is key!  Many people in your community may not even realize that the library takes donations of books. Make sure that there is information on your library and FOL websites informing visitors that yes, donations are accepted. Here you can include your list of wanted/unwanted materials, so that people can sort out anything you have decided not to accept. Make sure to also include where donations can be dropped off, and what times. Explain the list on your blog, Tweet it, and post it on your Facebook page. Ask for donations through local radio, and direct people towards your website for more information. Create flyers or postcards to place at the circulation desk. You want the community to know that you are interested in their books, and that there are certain ones that will help the library the most!

If your library or FOL still struggles to handle incoming donations after specifying which books you do and no not want, consider working with B-Logistics. We don't require sorting, scanning, or special boxes when you send us your materials. Visit today to see if B-Logistics is a good fit for you!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Advertising Your Book Sale

Today we are starting a series of ideas for improving a library or Friends of the Library book sale. Each topic will cover a new area, along with relevant resources and websites. The first topic, which we will cover today, is; Advertising  Your Book Sale.

People who frequent libraries are not the only ones in a community interested in buying books. Many people love to browse used book sales, but miss out because they did not know the sale was happening. Advertise outside the library as well as within! With flyers in public spaces, announcements in local papers and on local radio shows, and large signs outside the library announcing the sale, you are sure to draw in new people who do not frequent the library on a regular basis. Some great places to advertise are coffee shops, malls, bowling alleys, pet stores, and other small businesses. Use Google Maps' "Search Nearby" function to seek out these types of establishments around your library. Divide up locations between willing volunteers, and spend a day hanging up flyers (with the owner's permission, of course). Flyers can easily be made using Microsoft Word, and only need the words "Used Book Sale" and the price ranges of the books (along with all other relevant information) in order to entice the book worms of your community!

At your next sale you can collect e-mails of anyone interested in e-mail announcements of future sales and other FOL activities. You can also use this e-mail list to ask for more volunteers when necessary, and for general communication with the people who support you in your community. E-mail lists are a great way to get the word out, especially if you ask that recipients forward the sale announcements to anyone they think would be interested. 

Another great way to advertise your sales is through social media and other online outlets. Announce a sale in the weeks leading up on all social media platforms, but focus most of your attention on the ones with the most active members. If your library or FOL has a blog, this is a perfect place to start, since it can give all the details and easily be shared through Facebook and Twitter. You can also list your sale on websites like Book Sale Finder, which maintains a calendar of book sales, and will alert subscribers when book sales are happening within a prescribed distance of their home.

We hope that these ideas were helpful! What is your library or FOL doing to advertise book sales? Let us know in the comments!

Helpful Links:

E-mail Sign-Up Sheet and Advertising Templates
Finding Local Businesses Google Maps