Fact Check

Book Bind

Is the New Orleans Public Library seeking book donations?

Published March 18, 2006


Claim:   The New Orleans Public Library is soliciting book donations.

Status:   Multiple:

  • New Orleans libraries are accepting book donations from the public:   True.
  • Donating books is the best way to help the New Orleans libraries rebuild:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2006]

Seeking Book Donations
The New Orleans Public Library
(New Orleans LA)

The New Orleans Public Library is asking for any and all hardcover and paperback books for people of all ages in an effort to restock the shelves after Katrina. The staff will assess which titles will be designated for its collections. The rest will be distributed to destitute families or sold for library fundraising. Please send your books to:

Rica A. Trigs, Public Relations
New Orleans Public Library
219 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70112

If you tell the post office that they are for the library in New Orleans, they will give you the library rate which is slightly less than the book rate.

Origins:   The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina to the Gulf area included serious harm to the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) system. Katrina damaged the main library and all 12 branches in the system, and as of March 2006 only the main library and four branches are open, and even those for only five hours a day. Until just recently, only 19 of the former 216 NOPL employees remained on the job, the rest having been laid off (partly because of city budget cuts). While another 21 workers have since been rehired (bringing the total up to 40), the libraries are not only physically damaged but are also badly


Which brings us to this March 2006 appeal for used books with which to restock the New Orleans Public Library system. While the NOPL will accept donated books, potential contributors should take into account the enormous staffing problem the NOPL is attempting to cope with. While on the surface it might seem a brilliant plan to ship off all one's unwanted volumes to answer the need for books to replace those lost or hopelessly damaged by the flooding, the public libraries in that beleaguered city haven't the staff to adequately receive, sort through, catalogue, and place on the shelves all of the public's kindhearted offerings. With so many of that area's libraries still physically unfit to be opened to the public, it's fair to say they currently lack even the shelves to put the books on.

In response to this widely e-mailed appeal, the New Orleans Public Library has created a FAQ to aid those persons desirous of lending a helping hand to that institution. In a nutshell, they ask the public to donate money over books:

Does the library accept book donations?

Yes. However, due to storage and staff limitations, we ask that donors consider a few suggestions:

If you are a publisher, please contact us in advance at wmascari@gno.lib.la.us before shipping large quantities of books.

If you are an individual sending your own used books, please consider making a cash donation instead.

As the NOPL states:

What is the best way to help New Orleans Public Library?

Monetary donations are the best way to help the library rebuild (link here to donate online). If you would rather mail your donation, please make your check payable to NOPL Foundation and send it to New Orleans Public Library Foundation, 219 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112.

While packaging up your old books and mailing them off might seem the perfect solution to the NOPL's problems, do trust that the library better knows its own needs. Keep in mind that a great many books donated to libraries everywhere prove to be non-useful to those institutions; so, if you are moved to help, send money instead. If you want to support the New Orleans libraries with your old books, you can best do so by selling them yourself and giving the proceeds to the NOPL.

Barbara "send cash, not cache" Mikkelson

Last updated:   18 March 2006

  Sources Sources:

    Associated Press.   "Library Journal, American Library Assn Fixing Two N.O. Libraries."

    11 March 2006.

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