Monday, May 28, 2012

Donate with Care

book books good read
As is the case with many libraries, our law library accepts donations.  Big books, little books.  Red books, blue books.  We'll take darn near everything.  Darn near.  The thing is that many of those persons seeking to  donate books have a clandestine purpose in that they are simply seeking a tax deduction from the IRS.  The problem is that many of these "donations" have little or no value to anyone except the person making the donation.

eat digest consume booksFor example, we had a retired judge submit a rather substantial donation of books that had been sitting in his storage container for twelve years.  For those not following along, that's 12 years in a dark, dank, insect ridden, wet container. Do you know what happens to wet, insect ridden books that are placed next to books that are not wet and/or insect ridden?  First off, wet books get mildew (which is a disease) and then they start to rot and when placed next to books that are not rotted or mildewed, those other books get infected and pretty soon you have an entire library no one wants to be in because, well, uh...have you ever smelled something that is rotten?  I mean just shoved your nose right up to it and take a deep whiff?!  Start small and sniff a baby's dirty diaper.  Now, imagine an entire building full of dirty diapers.  Yeah,  I get to work with these donations every day.

glue eating silversish Then you have the insects to deal with.  Did you know that there are many bugs (I mean, LOTS of them) that infest books which just love to eat not just the paper pages in the books but also the glue that holds the books together?  Yeah - we've got cockroaches (squished one two inches long last week), silverfish (pictured to the left) and there's this one rather little nasty black bug I keep seeing around the library.  Yeah, we spray for insects all the time but, uh....that one, little black bug keeps coming back in spades (which, as it turns out, is also black - probably a relative or something).  In any event, the retired judge didn't care about mildew and insects or all those little black bugs or what his donated books might do to our entire insect/mildew free collection.  Nope, all he really cared about was getting a tax deduction.  What floored me was that he wanted the deduction to indicate that his books were new and in pristine condition - for the maximum deduction value.  Yeah, a real stalwart of justice, he was.

safe germ-free books I guess, if there is a moral to this story, if you're going to make a donation to the library, donate books and resources that you would put in your own home (if you had the space).  If you think the books are sub-standard, odds are, we do too.  If you think the books would stink up your house, odds are, we do too.  If you wouldn't want those books on your shelves, odds are, we don't either.  So when you're looking for books to donate to your local library, be sure those books are something you (or your children) would like to hold in your hand(s).