Handling Gifts to the Library

Q:  If someone gives a video or book or magazine subscription to the public library, should we put a book plate or otherwise label it as a “gift from ___,” especially if it’s something we otherwise wouldn’t buy for the library or don’t think is appropriate to add to materials in the children’s department?

If your library maintains a specific wish list and this item or money to buy it was donated by an organization or individual in your service area, then follow the library policy about public acknowledgment of gifts.

If the item donated to the library is not on a wish list, then follow your library’s policy about accepting (or not accepting) unsolicited gifts to the collection, and how accepted gifts will be acknowledged. Ideally, your collection development/selection policy will include a statement about handling unsolicited gifts to the library.  For example, it may state that gifted materials that don’t fit into the collection based on the selection/collection development policies guidelines may be returned to the donor, or placed in the library/library friends group book sale. (What to do if your policy doesn’t include guidance about gifts.)

If the gift is appropriate for the collection in general, but not for the department that received it (e.g., an adult book donated to the children’s department), then inform the donor where in the library his/her gift will be placed. If this isn’t acceptable to the donor, then thank the donor and return the gift.

May 2005