“Tidying Up” Your Life to “Spark Joy” in Others Through Book Donations

Feb 12, 2019

Have you watched Tidying Up on Netflix? Are you thinking about listening to Marie Kondo and her KonMari method? Do you want to get rid of some of your books and clear out the clutter? Don't worry, we won't judge you. The Johnson County Library houses the books so you don't have to. Since February is Declutter for a Cause month, let’s investigate where you can give your books a second life. If you want to donate books in the Johnson County area here are some places you can go. 

Friends of the Johnson County Library will accept: 

  • Hardback and paperback books for any age
  • Fiction and nonfiction books
  • "Coffee table" picture books on any subject
  • DVD movies and instructional videos
  • Music and books on CD
  • Cookbooks, craft books
  • Auto repair manuals
  • Instruction books
  • Religious books of all kinds
  • Blank journals
  • LP albums (accepted only at sorting center)
  • Jigsaw puzzles

Most of our Libraries can accept small donations - about the amount that would fit in a grocery bag. Please don't deliver donations to De Soto, Edgerton, Monticello, or Spring Hill. Generously large donations - more than a bag - are best delivered by appointment to the Friends Donation Sorting Center in Overland Park. You can reach us at (913) 492-4791. 


Shanta Dickerson, Operations Manager for the Friends, was kind enough to answer a variety of questions about donating materials and her work with the Friends.

The Tidying Up with Marie Kondo craze and controversy is a hot topic right now. Marie Kondo says you should declutter your life and keep only 30 books.

Social media is really good at taking things out of context and blowing them out of proportion. Her 30-book guideline is a personal preference which has been misconstrued as an edict, which isn't the case at all! Here's an article where she clarifies: https://www.indiewire.com/2019/01/marie-kondo-books-tidying-up-netflix-1202036091/

What’s something important you’d like to highlight about the Friends that the public might not know about? 

The Friends actually started Johnson County Library! A group of citizens known as the Citizens Library Committee recognized and promoted the need for a county public library. Thanks to their hard work, a library question appeared on the ballot and was approved by voters four to one in the fall of 1952. However, funding wasn't immediately available. So, they did what the Friends do best - they got to work and made it happen. By 1954, eleven self-service, volunteer-operated libraries were in place. Once County funding and paid staff support became available in 1955, the Citizens Library Committee reorganized as the Friends of Johnson County Library, with over 150 charter members.

What are the most donated items? 

Gently-used books make up the bulk of what we receive. We also accept AV (audiobooks, music CDs, DVDs and video games) and puzzles.

Are there any items the Friends are in need of? 

We could always use more history books and children's books, particularly picture books and easy readers. The demand for these particular genres continues to outpace supply. Of course they do need to be gently-used - in new or like-new condition - regardless of subject matter.

Can you tell me about the internet sales and how that works? 

Our online sales division opened in 2004 and has since grown into a robust operation with nearly 20 volunteers listing and shipping items five days a week. Anyone can hop online and browse our online storefronts via this link: http://bit.ly/2AnFy4j 

If you live locally and see something to add to your personal library, save yourself a few bucks on shipping! Just call us at 913.492.4777 and we can pull the item from our online inventory, then deliver it to your favorite Friends Bookstore at no additional charge.

What's the highest selling item? 

The single most valuable item we've sold to date was a small investment book published in the '90s. It looked like just another outdated business book, and it went for over $800. That's why we scan everything to determine value - you just never know what something is going to be worth.

What's the most popular genre to sell online? 

Definitely nonfiction. It's a mixed bag. Textbooks that are still relevant move quickly. We sell a lot of social science, out-of-print cookbooks and DVDs as well.

Are there any other non-profits groups we partner with for book donations? Like Olathe Public Library, Reach Out and Read or Hands to Hearts? 

Not at this time - incoming donations are abundant thanks to the generosity of JCL patrons and supporters. Olathe Public Library does have a supporting Friends organization that also accepts donations and runs book sales.

How many volunteers do you have at the sorting center and the book sales? 

Right now we have nearly 50 volunteers who sort books at least one day a week. It takes about 60 volunteers to run our smaller book sales, which are held in March and November at Central Library. This includes 8-10 clients from Johnson County Dept of Correction's Therapeutic Community who help with setup and pack-up at every sale.

It takes a *lot* of volunteers to run our annual summer sales. Our 2018 Sizzlin' Summer Book Sale was supported by over 200 volunteers who covered over 350 shifts. It's a lot of work, but so much fun to watch it all come together.

Do you know the dates for the 2019 book sales? 

Our Cabin Fever Sale returns to Central Library Thu 3/21 - Sat 3/23. Sizzlin' Summer Book Sale dates are TBD - stay tuned!

For more information on the Friends of the Johnson County Library, visit our website:





There are a number of other locations that accept book donations, including:

Olathe Public Library 

The Olathe Public Library will accept only certain items in good condition for donation to their Friends of the Library book sales. These items include: books for all ages, DVDs, books on CD, music CDs, and video games.



Hands to Hearts 

According to their website: Hands to Hearts collects new and gently used books to send home with the children, put in distribution in their school libraries and eventually to outfit a book mobile. Book drives are scheduled intermittently with schools, churches, scout troops, etc. Book donation boxes are placed in participating businesses. In addition we accept donations at our packing site on an ongoing basis.

Book donations can be dropped off at 9130 Flint, Overland Park, KS, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm or during pack times. For more information on donating books and other personal care items to Hands to Hearts, visit their website: http://www.handstoheartskc.org/books/


Vietnam Veterans of America

The Vietnam Veterans of America will accept almost anything you have to donate, including:

Clothing of all types & sizes (men’s, ladies, children’s, baby’s) • Clothing accessories • Shoes (all kinds) Baby items • House and glassware • Books, toys, bikes • Stereos, radios, portable TVs • All bedding, draperies, curtains Kitchenware • Usable small furniture & rugs • Small appliances • Tools (all kinds) • Jewelry and cosmetics

Visit their website for more information: https://vva.org/pickup-locations/kansas/

To schedule an appointment for pickup at your home in Johnson, Wyandotte, and Douglas Counties, call 913-342-8545. To drop off items, you may visit: 927 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101.



The Veterans of Foreign Wars accept book donations. To find a local VFW Post near you, follow this link: https://www.vfw.org/find-a-post


Reach Out and Read

The mission of Reach Out and Read gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Visit their website for more information: http://www.reachoutandreadkc.org/




Written by Kari E.

I love to travel. London is my favorite city.


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