The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Used library books sent to a “better world”

Books that are no longer needed on the shelves of St. John’s St. Augustine library will find new homes around the world thanks to Better World Books, which the library partnered with during the 2006-07 school year.

Better World Books, which was founded in 2004 and has partnered with more than 750 libraries across the nation, sells “discarded and donated material from libraries across the United States on over 17 online marketplaces-generating funding for both libraries and non-profit literacy initiatives,” according to its Web site.

St. John’s decided to partner with Better World Books during the 2006-07 school year because it does not require the library to pay shipping fees when sending out books, donates 85 percent of the sale of these books to various charities, and also gives the St. John’s library 10 percent of the earnings, said Arthur Sherman, acquisitions coordinator for the Collection Development and Acquistions department.

And according to Andrew Sankowski, associate professor and director of Collections and Information Management, the St. John’s library has received more than $2,000 from Better World Books since the start of its partnership for its donations of around 2,500 books, which it will use to purchase new books. “The money came from books, so now it’s going back to the books,” Sherman said.

Better World Books also does not throw away any of the books that it receives.

Sankowski said that he likes this because it means the library is “saving the book and not throwing it away.” Sherman added that the library is “bending over backwards not to throw things away.”

Some of the organizations that receive books from Better World Books include Books for Africa, which provides used textbooks to more than 27 different countries, Room to Read, which has funded the building of schools and libraries in South Asia, and Worldfund, which has donated money to schools in Latin America, according to the Better World Books Web site.

According to Sankowski, books eligible for donation to Better World Books come from two sources-weeding, which is the process of removing outdated material from the shelves, and gift-books, which have been donated to the St. John’s library. “If we have worn-out copies [of books] we can replace our copies with gift copies, but only about 5 percent of gifts are used,” said Sherman. “The rest are all excess.”

Sankowski stressed that the process of weeding is difficult because “we want to get rid of outdated material, but we don’t want to get rid of something with lasting value.”

He also noted that “the nature of how information is delivered is changing,” saying that today, “electronic journals, Web sites, and DVDs,” are becoming more popular sources of information than paper materials.

Besides Better World Books, the library also donates books to numerous countries across the world, including the Philippines, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kazhakstan. “We try to help people, especially those who are needy, keeping with the Vincentian mission,” Sankowski said.

The library also holds a free book give-away in front of the library during the spring semster. “People are always looking for something and they might find a hidden treasure,” Sankowski said.

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