Donating Books and Other Items

The Oakland Public Library regularly receives gifts of books and non-book material from our patrons. While we are able to add some gift material to our shelves, not every gift to the library is appropriate for the collection.

For a gift to be added to the collection, it must meet the same standard as purchased material. Gifts must be timely as to content and format, in excellent physical condition, have either contemporary significance or permanent value, and be consistent with existing library collections.

If you are interested in donating money, please click here.

Some examples of gifts that the library encourages are

  • Current bestsellers (in excellent physical condition) in fiction and nonfiction
  • Classic fiction or nonfiction in excellent physical condition
  • Books on CD (unabridged complete sets only)
  • Musical recordings on CD only, in excellent condition, in jewel cases
  • Timely nonfiction (two years old or newer) in excellent physical condition
  • Large-print books in excellent physical condition
  • Popular or classic DVDs in excellent condition

Some examples of material that the library will not accept include

  • Travel guidebooks, computer books, or medical books over three years old
  • Non-book material in outdated formats (e.g.: phonograph records, VHS tapes, music cassettes)
  • Almanacs or encyclopedia yearbooks
  • Abridged or condensed books or audio books
  • Book club editions
  • Toys

Magazines are not accepted by Oakland Public Library branches. Some magazines may be accepted after pre-arrangement by the Magazine and Newspaper Room of the Main Library. Please call 238-3176.

Gifts are also evaluated for their condition

Books with

  • yellowed or missing pages
  • damaged spines
  • musty smells
  • stains
  • visible mildew
  • underlining or highlighting

cannot be added to the collection and are not accepted.

Audio-visual materials that are damaged or incomplete sets are not accepted.

Exceptions to the above guidelines may be made for gifts to specialty collections such as the Oakland History Room (238-3222) and AAMLO, the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (637-0200).

Unused gifts cannot be returned to the donor. At the library's discretion, they may be offered to the Friends of the Library for public sale, discarded, or disposed of in some other way. We encourage donors to recycle books themselves, as this is a time consuming activity for our staff. 

The Library provides a receipt describing number and type of donated material. The Library cannot be responsible for the appraisal or valuation of gifts for income tax or any other purposes.

Gifts of children's and teen material are evaluated separately by Children's Services and Teen Services librarians and are subject to additional criteria. Contact your local library for further information.

Where to Bring Gifts

Main Library:

Books, CDs, and DVDs that meet the criteria listed above may be brought to the Main Library Reference Desk on the first floor during open hours. We accept the equivalent of no more than two shopping bags full of materials.  For larger donations, please call (510) 238-4704 to arrange for drop-off at the service entrance or contact the Bookmark Bookstore, which is run by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library, at  510-444-0473  or

Branch Libraries:

Each branch has different needs in regards to donations.  Please contact your local branch directly to find out if they accept donated materials. You can find a list of library locations here

Who can I contact for more information?

Andrew Demcak, Collection Management Librarian, (510) 238-4704, or