Do you have too many books and find yourself searching for ways to donate books in the windy city? If this sounds like you, then look no further, this is the perfect place for you!
We’ve put together a list with all the best places to donate books in Chicago, with information on how to donate, what books the organizations need and where you can take them to be donated.
Note: We prioritize organizations that dedicate time and resources to aiding literacy in Chicago and the greater Chicago area.
Books 4 Cause
Donation Types: Drop off in book bin, pick up from you
Primary Location: 3415 Madison St., Skokie, IL 60076
Avondale Pop-Up: 2931 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60618
Hours: Mon-Fri 12-5; Sat-Sun 10-5
Type of Books Accepted: Almost everything!
Type of Books Not Accepted: Magazines or journals
Website: Books 4 Cause
How to Donate
Drop your books off at either location, or organize a pickup service through their website contact form.
To fully utilize Books 4 Cause’s services, a $25 donation to the African Library Project charity is required in return for the full book pick up service. This service includes boxes and tape, and the muscle needed to move those heavy books!
Books 4 Cause accepts books, CDs and DVDs. While most condition books are welcomed, if you know your book should or needs to be recycled, Books 4 Cause encourages you to do this yourself.
The organization also accepts old books, if the information is still relevant.
Why We Love Books 4 Cause
This organization works in Chicago and Milwaukee, and focuses on providing children with access to books and textbooks not only in Chicago, but around the world. Books4Cause have currently helped set up 18 libraries in Africa.
Founder Yosef Lifchitz had a simple idea: instead of discarding textbooks that contained a wealth of knowledge, he could send these to children living in terrible poverty and help them get the resources to learn. The organization stands as probably the best place to donate old textbooks in Chicago, given Yosef’s cause.
K-12 grade books are sent to either kids in Africa or sent to kids in Chicago, and college level books are given to an African University Library or resold, depending on the needs of the universities. The rest are either used in free libraries in Chicago, given away or recycled.
Bernie’s Book Bank
Donation Types: Drop off, pick up from you, drop off in book bin
Primary Location: 917 North Shore Dr., Lake Buff, IL 60044
Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30am-5pm
Other Locations: Over 120 locations for book bin drop offs can be found on their helpful map here
Type of Books Accepted: Baby books and children’s books up to 6th grade
Type of Books Not Accepted: Activity books, coloring books, dictionaries, religious books, textbooks
Website: Bernie’s Book Bank
How to Donate
Drive to Bernie’s Book Bank or any of their book bin locations for an easy donation. If you have a large number of books, we suggest taking them to their primary location on North Shore Dr. so they can help you unload them from your car into the side door. Ring the doorbell once you have driven up the driveway, and someone will come to assist you.
Have 500 or more books? Bernie’s Book Bank will collect them from you! Just contact them here. Please bear in mind that the boxes should be no bigger than the size of a banker’s box.
Why We Love Bernie’s Book Bank
Bernie’s Book Bank care about getting books into the hands of under-served children. They regularly deliver large quantities of books to school districts and early childhood programs in Chicago and beyond.
They were founded in 2009, named after founder Brian’s dad, and since then they’ve donated a frankly insane 23 million books! They’re now maybe the most renowned Chicago book donation organization, and their massive amount of book bin drop off locations in the city and beyond is a testament to how they’ve grown, and the amazing work they’ve done to help so many kids get access to literature.
Chicago Books for Women in Prison
Donation Type: Appointment only
Location: 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
Hours: Saturday to Sunday 3-5pm
Type of Books Accepted: There is a lengthy, and precise, list of what the Chicago BWP accept on their website here
Type of Books Not Accepted: Children’s books, most mass-market fiction books, non-fiction books not on their above list
Website: Chicago BWP
How to Donate
Please email the organization to establish if the books you wish to donate will be of use to them. Their email is: email@example.com
You’ll then be able to drop off the books on weekends during the hours listed above.
Alternatively, you can mail the books – send by USPS to the address:
Chicago Books to Women in Prison c/o RFUMC
4511 N.Hermitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
Please note that the storage is limited and they are currently well-stocked. If unsure if you should donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org first.
Below is a selected list of their most wanted books – books should be in very good condition.
- Urban fiction and Christian urban fiction
- True crime
- Dream dictionaries
- Diet and nutrition
- Books in Spanish – fiction and non-fiction
Why We Love Chicago Books to Women in Prison
It’s great to see a nonprofit focusing specifically on incarcerated women, and delivering a customized service to provide them with books to suit their needs.
Chicago BWP is an all-volunteer nonprofit that receives hundreds of requests in writing from incarcerated females, and does their best to send them relevant books. They’ll also host various events , be it online or locally, which you can keep up with on their Facebook page.
Donation Type: Drop off, drop off in book bin, pick up
Primary Location: West Loop 651 W Lake, Chicago, IL 60661
Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 12pm-6pm
Other Locations: Logan Square, Pilsen (in-store drop off), Lakeview, River North and Skokie locations can be found on their website
Type of Books Not Accepted: Magazines, encyclopedias, textbooks
Website: Open Books
How to Donate
Open Books has seven drop off points across Chicago, and accept all children’s and grown-up books, making it easier than ever to donate your unwanted books no matter where you live! Just bear in mind all of these bar the West Loop and Pilsen locations are “book bin” locations, so try not to bring TOO MANY books to book bin locations, i.e. more than 2 or 3 boxes worth.
Use the drop off locations listed above, or arrange a pick up through the form on their website. Open Books can collect the donations from Monday to Friday 10am-2pm in their booksmobile.
Why We Love Open Books
Open Books use their physical location in the West Loop to host a number of literacy programs for children, namely their popular “Story time” program where volunteers will read to pre-k children and their caregivers.
They also give generous book grants, empowering readers of all ages, not just children, by allowing them to choose books they’d like to read at their Pilsen location, or having the Open Books team select books for them. These are great initiatives, and you can find out more about them on their website.
Donation Types: Pick up from you, drop off in book bin
Location: JMC Barbershop 105 Addison Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm
Type of Books Not Accepted: Magazines, large folio photography or coffee table books, children’s books unless they’re in excellent condition, damaged books, cookbooks, legal books
Website: Book Driver Chicago
How to Donate
Drop your books off in the book bin at the above address, or fill in a request donation pick up form/call 720-840-0291.
Book Driver is a book donation pick up service, with one drop off location (but they’re looking for more!) If you can’t drop the books off yourself, contact them requesting a pick up, and they will do exactly that! They will arrange a time and date that suits you to pick up the books or goods you wish to donate. The pick up is limited to 10 boxes or 300 books.
Once contacted, Book Driver aims to get back to you within one business day.
Why We Love Book Driver
We’ve featured them before as they work in a number of big US cities, and the fact they can pick up books from anywhere in the Chicagoland area for free makes them an appealing option. Instead of trying to find where to donate books in Chicago, they’ll simply come to you!
Book Driver takes books, DVDs. vinyls, CDs and video games. All are sold or donated and support a wide range of charities such as Open Books, Friends of Library Organizations, First Book Chicago and Goodwill.
Please bear in mind, if you require a write-off or tax receipt, Book Driver does not offer this service.
Donation Types: Drop off, trade/exchange
Location: 5140 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640
Hours: Tues-Sun 11-7
Type of Books Not Accepted: Textbooks, bibles, old chick-lit/romance, computer books, old business books
Website: Uncharted Books
How to Donate
Uncharted Books is a used and rare bookstore that specializes in rare and antiquarian books. If you feel you have something super rare, or have more than 3 boxes worth of books to donate, email email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
Uncharted will not accept any donations in bad condition. The store has limited space, staff and funds. Their inventory is always changing, so the genres they are or aren’t accepting may change. At the time of writing, this is the list of genres that they are accepting:
- Rare and antiquarian books
- Fiction – in particular contemporary, literacy novels and single-author fiction collections
- Trade-bound comics
- Identity politics – feminism, LGBT and race issues
For a full list of what is and isn’t accepted, we recommend you check out their website.
The Newberry (Chicago’s Independent Research Library)
Donation Type: Drop off
Location: 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60610
Hours: 9am-4pm, Monday to Saturday
Website: The Newberry
How to Donate
If you are considering donating books to The Newberry, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org first.
The Newberry accepts books, music, DVDs and other collectible items for their annual book fair.
- Books – fiction and non-fiction for children and adults (both paperback and hardcover are welcomed)
- Magazines (history, art, literacy and antiques)
The Newberry are not currently accepting:
- Weekly magazines such as The New Yorker, Vogue etc
- Condensed books
- Materials with excessive highlighting, missing covers or damaged by insects
- Other non-book donations
Small donations (less than 5 boxes or bags) can be dropped off at the loading dock on the North side of the building. Large donations (more than 5 boxes or bags) can be dropped off but a call is required to schedule in advance on 312-255-3581.
Pilsen Community Books
Donation Type: Trade/exchange
Location: 1102 W 18th St., Chicago, IL 60608
Hours: Sun-Mon 11am-7pm; Tue-Sat 11am-9pm
Website: Pilsen Community Books
How to Donate
Book an appointment by emailing email@example.com with clear photos of the types of books you’re wanting to sell.
Pilsen Community Books is slightly different to the other organizations in our list, as instead of donating the books, you’re selling the books to them to then sell on your behalf. Once sold, the profits will help support Pilsen’s schools.
They do not accept:
- Children’s books or Young Adult books older than 2014
- Romance novels
- Books with highlighting, underlining or notes
- Encyclopedias, law books, text books or teaching materials.
- Magazines of any type
Where Can I Donate Books in Chicago? The Sparknotes:
- Books 4 Cause
- Bernie’s Book Bank
- Chicago Books for Women in Prison
- Open Books
- Book Driver Chicago
- Uncharted Books
- Pilsen Community Books
Don’t forget to check out our newly created Book Donation Map of America, featuring these locations and thousands more.
There are a great variety of places accepting book donations in Chicago, and we hope this has helped you find some motivation to donate the books that have been sitting on your bookshelf waiting to be re-homed, or inspired you to start thinking about donating.