How to Donate Old Encyclopedia Britannicas

The CD-ROM killed the hard-bound encyclopedia market.

Before home computers and compact discs made storage of, and access to, massive amounts of the written word practicable, encyclopedia sales people went door-to-door selling sets of books to parents eager to give their children a leg up on their school work. The premiere set to own, and one that marked a family as serious about education, was the Encyclopedia Britannica. Many families now own an outdated Britannica set and feel uncomfortable about just disposing of an expensive set of books by throwing them into the trash. To avoid this, Britannica owners should investigate the many places that will still accept encyclopedias as a donation.

Call your local library and ask if they have a used book sales room. If so, they often will feature encyclopedia sets for sale to the public. The money raised in these fundraisers are often used to buy new books.

Contact local jails and state prisons to see if they would be interested in the set. These facilities sometimes suffer from a lack of sufficient quality reading material for their inmates. Since access to computers and the Internet is often limited, a good set of outdated Britannicas may be appreciated.

Ask senior citizen homes in your area if they would be interested in your set of encyclopedias. Older citizens often prefer using actual books instead of computers. A Britannica set that dates from their childhood or early adulthood might be of particular interest to them.

Call the area Boys and Girls Clubs in poorer neighborhoods to see if they would like the set. Many of the chapters run after-school tutoring and study programs. While the Britannica set will not be up-to-date on current issues, it is still a great resource on historical happenings and people.

Ask local adult education centers about who is running adult literacy programs. These programs teach adults to read. One of their students, for instance, might enjoy and welcome a quality set of Britannicas into the home, even if they are older.

Ask local craft store owners if they would be interested in the set as crafting material. With imagination, the books can be turned into purses, table stands, music holders and lecterns.

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.