Donation Guidelines

Donation Policy

Thank you for thinking of the Waltham Public Library. Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding donations to the Library and our Friends of the Waltham Public Library (FWPL) organization. Please contact the Library Director if you have questions not covered by these guidelines.

Books and other Library Materials

Each year, the library purchases thousands of print and non-print materials. With modern technology, it is actually more expensive for us to accept a donation and prepare it for circulation than it is for us to purchase a title that comes ready for the shelf. Thus, we have found it necessary to place some limits on what we can accept for our collection and our book sale.

For our collection: The Waltham Public Library only accepts books for our collection that have been published in the last year and are in excellent physical condition, as determined by library staff. The Waltham Public Library provides a slip for your records, indicating the number of items donated to us. We are unable to provide any further written acknowledgement for donations, nor do we possess the qualifications to appraise the value of materials. Items not used in the collection will be donated to the FWPL.

For our FWPL book sale: The Library has learned from many years of experience what does and does not sell at our annual book sale. We have to be selective because of storage limitations and the labor involved in sorting so many items. Materials in poor condition (moldy, torn, soiled, water damaged, etc.) cannot be accepted. Encyclopedias, reference materials, text books, or artwork cannot be accepted for our collection or the book sale.

Magazines: The FWPL offer a magazine swap. Leave one, take one. We do not accept collections of magazines.

When bringing donations for the book sale, we ask that you limit items to 50 at a time (roughly 2 large shopping bags or one large box), unless you have made prior arrangements to drop off a larger amount. Contact our Administrative Assistant at 781-314-3428.

Donating your private collection: The Library occasionally receives offers of “private collections” to add to our circulating collection. After much experience, we have learned that “private collection” often means different things to different people, and often materials have a more emotional value than literary or monetary value. Unfortunately, library staff are not qualified to appraise books. Fortunately, we strive to be experts in what Waltham readers will enjoy. Please refer to our collection and book sale requirements above for what we are able to accept. Exceptions for curated collections that have already been formally appraised will be made by the Library Director.

Donating your self-published novel: In terms of self-published materials for our collection, a few things are taken into consideration. Generally speaking, self-published materials are not reviewed by professional sources, which makes it difficult to ascertain whether or not they are the right fit for our community. We hand select all of our materials, so we rely heavily on reviews. That does not mean we never purchase self-published materials or that we do not recognize their value. For example, if a current Waltham resident has self-published a book, we usually attempt to add that book to our collection. Please see our Collection Development Policy for more details and contact the Collection Development Librarian for more info.

Please understand that maintaining a current and popular collection is a very high priority for us. There is no guarantee that any book would not be removed from the collection over time.

Below is a list of places that accept all book donations.

Monetary Gifts

We are very grateful to have the financial support of the City of Waltham that allows us a healthy book budget (and meets the state’s highest recommended amount each year) and appropriate staffing.

We typically direct people to the Friends of the Waltham Public Library, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that works to support and enhance the work of the library. The Friends fund our community read program, summer reading, programming, museum passes, the PIE Room, and various special projects. Our Friends make the fun stuff happen, plus your donation is tax deductible! We highly suggest a donation to our Friends organization as the best way to see your dollar make a difference. The FWPL will mail a thank you letter for your records and tax purposes.

The City does not accept credit card donations; only cash or check. The FWPL can accept cash, check or credit card through PayPal

Significant Gifts/Bequests

Gifts intended for perpetuity should be discussed with the Library Director and/or the Board of Trustees.

Monetary Gifts to Purchase Materials

Occasionally people ask about donating money for a specific collection in honor of a loved one. Monetary gifts to purchase books in honor of someone must be arranged with the Library Director. Typically, with processing costs, new hardcover books can cost $25-30 each and there will be a $25 charge for all bookplate templates.

In Memoriam

During times of loss, some generous families ask for donations to the Library in lieu of flowers. This is an exceptionally thoughtful gesture during a difficult time. Again, donations to the Friends of the Waltham Public Library are preferred.

If you let us know about this gesture, we can track the donations. The Friends will send individual thank you notes, and we can provide you with a list of names of those who have donated. Please ask your family and friends to indicate in whose memory the gift is given. We regret we cannot share any other personal information about donors other than a name.

Occasionally people ask about donating money for a specific collection in honor of a loved one. Monetary gifts to purchase books in honor of someone must be arranged with the Library Director. Typically, with processing costs, new hardcover books can cost $25-30 each and there will be a $25 charge for all bookplate templates.

Please note:

The Library reserves the right to refuse any gift that the Library Director and/or Board of Library Trustees, in its sole discretion, deems to be not in the best interests of the Library to accept.

If a gift is accepted by the Library, the gift shall be final and no restrictions on the Library's ownership, possession, use or disposition of the gift shall be effective other than restrictions approved by the express vote of the Board of Library Trustees and memorialized in writing.

Valuation: The Library will provide a timely, written acknowledgment of the receipt of monetary gifts to the donor. Income tax regulations leave the determination of the gift's monetary value to the donor. Donors wishing to have an appraisal of their gifts done for income tax purposes should do so prior to donation. We are unable to offer any appraisals of any materials or gifts.

Future disposition of gifts: Libraries used extensively by their patrons sustain losses through theft, mutilation and ordinary wear. The Library therefore cannot guarantee that any gift will be part of the collection or furnishings permanently. The Library reserves the right to dispose of gifts as they see fit.

Locations in Waltham that accept book donations: