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Book and Non-Monetary Donations FAQs

What does the Library do with my donations?

Friends of the Arlington Public Library Book Sales

Books and magazines and other materials donated at the library are sorted by the Book Donation Team and prepared for sale. Proceeds from these sales support library programming. The Friends hold two mammoth book sales annually in spring and fall in the parking garage of the Central Library. Used materials are also sold daily at all library locations.

Want to help the Friends Book Sale team?
Check the Library Calendar for the dates of the next Friends Book Sale and sign up to volunteer.

The Library Collection

Usually only books published in the current year are added to the Library’s collection.

Where can I donate books?
  • Small donations are accepted at all Library locations during open hours.
  • Donations up to 5 boxes per day can be deposited on the blue carts just inside the back (parking lot side) entrance at Central Library. Smaller quantities of books can be placed directly inside the donation bin. Ask a staff person or volunteer if you need a cart for assistance.
  • Donation receipts are available at all Library locations, at the Service Desk.
  • Very large donations can be brought to the Central Library loading dock on weekdays between 10 and 5 p.m. The loading dock is accessible from the parking lot, just off of 10th Street. Assistance in unloading is available between 4 – 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Ring the doorbell, and a staff member will help you unload and issue a receipt. Volunteers are unable to assist at other times.
  • Please do not leave donations in any other areas of the Library or outside the building.
What kinds of donations does the Library accept?
  • Hardback and paperback books
  • Children’s and teen books
  • DVDs and recorded books on CD
  • Music and instructional CDs
  • Foreign language books
  • Classic literature
  • Fiction and non-fiction (hardback or softbound) in all subject areas, including sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and humanities, plus local interest, home improvement, crafts, cooking, and performing arts.
  • Other media such as phonograph records (LPs), computer games, sheet music, board games, and jigsaw puzzles.
  • The Center for Local History, the community archives at the Central Library, is particularly interested in original materials related to Arlington’s history, such as documents, maps, papers, histories, etc.  If you have historical materials to donate, please call 703-228-5966.
What NOT to donate?
  • Books that are moldy, mildewed, food-stained, heavily highlighted, or falling apart. Materials previously stored in basements or garages need special checking. If they smell, they can’t sell.
  • Most magazines more than a year old (or three months old for weekly magazines). Exceptions: We do accept back copies of Architectural Digest, cooking magazines, and all magazines published before 1960.
  • Academic, scientific, medical, or similar professional journals. A local university library is more likely to be interested.
  • Frequently revised travel books like Fodor and Frommer's that are older than five years.
  • Medical books, and legal, tax, computer, financial advice books older than five years.
  • School textbooks that are no longer used.
  • Consumers’ guides older than 3 years.
  • Discarded library books.
  • Multi-volume sets of encyclopedias cannot be accepted. However, 1-2 volume specialized encyclopedias are desirable.
  • Audiocassettes (books on tape or music).
  • Computer software and games that are obsolete.
  • Videocassette (VHS) tapes.
Are donations tax deductible?

Personal property donated to the Friends of the Arlington Library may be deducted as charitable donations in kind. Donors may request a receipt from any desk that is staffed or from volunteers at the Loading Dock on the 10th Street side of the Central Library. The Library and its volunteers do not estimate the value of donations, but a tax professional or the IRS itself can advise.


How can I get involved with Friends of the Arlington Public Library?

FOAL offers a number of volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Contact for more information. Members of the public are also welcome at all FOAL Board meetings. Meeting dates, times, and locations are posted here.

How often does FOAL host large book sales?

FOAL volunteers put on two large book sales per year: Spring and Fall, at Arlington's Central Library Branch. Book sales run Thursday-Sunday. Miss a sale? Many library branches feature small FOAL bookstores, with all proceeds benefitting FOAL!

Are donations to FOAL tax deductible?

Yes! You will receive a donor acknowledgement letter for each financial donation. See the Circulation Desk at your local library branch for a tax receipt for donations of books and materials.

What is my monetary donation used for?

Your tax-deductible contribution will be used to provide programming at all branches.  This programming includes author talks, the winter and summer reading programs, music, art, and storytimes.  Contributions, along with book sale proceeds, also support the Library’s collection of books and e-books, the Center for Local History, and The Shop which is a maker space at Central Library providing a space for patrons to make things, repair items, and take crafting classes.  More information on all that FOAL supports is available on our website:

I'm an Arlington County educator or school librarian, can you help me with books and resources?

Yes!  FOAL offers a 50% discount at our book sales to Arlington County educators and school librarians who teach in Pre-K through 12th grade in public or private schools.  You will need your school ID to verify that you are indeed an Arlington County educator or librarian.  Discounts are claimed at checkout.   You will see signs about this discount all the book sale.


Educators from towns and counties other than Arlington should see a Board Member for a discount card you can use for some of your purchases.

I represent a local non-profit with literacy needs. Can FOAL help?

Yes! FOAL provides a limited number of free book vouchers for use during our book sales. These vouchers are provided on a first come, first serve basis with FOAL Board approval. Email for more information.

How do I change or cancel my annual membership payment?

If you selected a recurring payment option, your membership will automatically renew next year. To cancel a recurring donation, click here.