April 2, 2014

Dannemora Library leftovers reused, recycled

DANNEMORA — Ever wonder what happens to books the library doesn’t want anymore?

The Dannemora Free Library now has an eco-friendly way to dispose of them.

“Traditionally, our librarian tries to weed our holdings every once in awhile,” said Elaine Rice, president of the library’s Board of Trustees. 

As with most libraries, books were offered for sale to raise money or simply given away. However, Rice said, there were always “leftovers.”

Therefore, she explained, “we were looking for places to recycle books.”

Eventually, they found one.

The library now works with a company called Better World Books that makes sure discarded tomes are reused or recycled.

The program began under Librarian Penny Belton, who has since left the position to care for her mother.


Better World, Belton said, sends boxes and pays for shipping. All the librarians have to do is gather the books and pack them up.

Some books are sold by the company, which will then send the library a portion of the money. Other books, Belton said, are sent to charities. 

“They have nine charities around the world that they donate them to.” 

These include organizations that aid children and literacy groups. 

The company’s range beyond the United States includes Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.


Adding to the interest generated by the program is an environmental report that Better World Books sends to participating libraries. 

Based upon data from the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit environmental organization, the report estimates the ecological benefits of recycling the books.

A total of 965 books were shipped from the Dannemora Free Library, the report says, with 680 recycled and 285 reused.

The report estimates that recycling the 680 books was equivalent to saving 10 trees, each of which is 40 feet tall and between 6 and 8 inches in diameter. This also represented the conservation of 3,949 gallons of water, the report continued, as well as 2,208 kilowatt hours of electricity and 1,429 pounds of greenhouse gases (based on the methane that would have been produced by landfilling).

The 285 reused books were estimated as the equivalent of four trees, 3,720 gallons of water, 954 kilowatt hours of electricity and 617 pounds of greenhouse gases.

“It was amazing when you see how much electricity and how many trees you saved,” Belton said.


Check out Better World Books:

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