Donate Books and Materials
Donating to the Collection
The Newberry welcomes donations of items that will extend, strengthen, and complement the library’s collection. Potential donations are reviewed by Newberry staff to determine their appropriateness to the collection and their place within the library’s collecting emphases. If you are considering a gift of materials to the Newberry, please contact our curators or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Newberry also welcomes donations of funds to support the acquisition, cataloging, and conservation of materials. To learn more about these giving opportunities, please contact Jackie B. Johnson, Director of Major and Planned Giving, at (312) 255-3544 or email@example.com.
Donating to the Book Fair
We are also pleased to accept donations of books, music, DVDs, and other collectible items for our annual Book Fair. Every item sold at the Book Fair begins as a donation, and proceeds from the sale support the Newberry’s collection, services, and programs. You can find answers to commonly asked questions below. For additional information, please call the Book Fair Hotline at (312) 255-3510.
The Book Fair would not be possible without your donations and the generosity of our volunteers who help staff the event. Learn more about volunteering at the Book Fair.
When can I donate?
Books may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Saturdays (except for official holidays when the Newberry is closed).
In order to manage our inventory, we do not accept book donations between the following dates:
- January 1 – 31
- July 4 (Independence Day) – Labor Day
- October 1 – 31
What can I donate?
We welcome the following items:
- Books – fiction and nonfiction for children and adults (paperback and hardcover)
- CDs and records (LPs, 78s, 45s)
- Magazines – history, art, literary, antiques
Exceptions to this rule are:
- Weekly magazines like The New Yorker, Time and Newsweek, or very popular monthly magazines such as National Geographic, Vogue, etc.
- Condensed books
- Materials with excessive highlighting or underlining, missing covers, or damage from mold or insects
- Household items or other non-book donations
Where can I donate?
The Newberry is located at 60 West Walton Street in Chicago’s Gold Coast, bounded on four sides by Walton, Clark, Oak, and Dearborn Streets. Get directions.
Small donations (under 5 boxes or bags) may be dropped off in the Newberry’s north entrance, in the box marked “Book Fair Donations”.
Large donations (more than 5 boxes or bags) may be dropped off, but we ask you to call and schedule your drop off in advance. To do so, please call (312) 255-3510.
Will you pick up my books?
We offer pick up service in the Chicago area, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., schedule permitting. We have a limited number of volunteers who pick up materials for us, so we cannot honor all requests, but we will do our best. To inquire about a pick up, please complete this webform, and a staff member will contact you.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Both the Book Fair Manager and the guard on duty in the lobby can issue a receipt. We are a 501(c)3 institution, which means your donations are deductible, though the amount you deduct is your responsibility.
What if I donate something really, really valuable?
We do our best to notify donors if they drop off something of great value. If the book is something that is desired for the Newberry’s own collection, you will probably hear from a curator, who will thank you in no uncertain tones. If not, you will, at length, get a call from the Book Fair Manager to ask if you really meant to donate something so nifty.
What if I suspect something is really valuable?
As a library, we are not permitted to appraise materials, but the Book Fair Manager will do his best to advise you.
The value of a book depends on many things, including its scarcity or rarity, its condition, and its place of importance in history. The website Your Old Books is a good primer on which factors to consider when evaluating an item. To get approximate prices for a book, you can check online booksellers such as Alibris and AbeBooks to see if similar items are for sale. But if you’re really suspicious it’s of great value, take it to an appraiser or dealer before bringing it to the Newberry.
Can you recommend an appraiser or dealer?
A list of appraisal resources can be found here.
What if I donate a book and realize the next day that I want it back?
Our rule is that if we can find it, you may come and take it back. If we can’t locate it after a reasonable search, you’ll just have to come to the next Book Fair and buy it back.
Who can I talk to about donating to the Book Fair?
Please call the Book Fair Hotline at (312) 255-3510 with further questions.