Gift Guidelines

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The following section will give you some tips on making a donation of books or other printed material to the library. Library staff share the donor's concern that gift material will actually be used at the library. Therefore, if you are considering donating to the library, we urge you to first contact the Gifts Coordinator.

It will often be possible to determine the appropriateness of a proposed gift with a simple telephone call. When it seems advisable, library staff can make a personal visit to the donor to review the gift material.

The needs of a university research library are both varied and specific. Be aware that they exclude some of the items people often wish to donate. However valuable they may be, standard editions of classic works are likely to duplicate our collections. They would be of better use to a public library or charitable organization. Textbooks quickly become outdated as new editions are published. Many items, although theoretically valuable, may be printed on paper too brittle to make them usable. Rare books, scholarly works, or works on out-of-the-way or little-known topics are often a good fit for the library. We are also glad to have new books, and replacements for items missing from our shelves.

We will be happy to assist you in finding alternative donation options if it turns out that your gift does not fall under Northwestern University Library's collection needs; feel free to call us. There are many institutions which welcome donations. Check with your local public library. There are also many charitable organizations with donation programs for books and journals.

Before bringing a donation to the library, please box all materials, and contact the Gifts Coordinator to discuss any special circumstances concerning your donation.

Please note: once your gift enters our processing workflow, we can not accommodate an appraiser; therefore, if you are considering a tax deduction and wish to have your collection appraised, you should do so prior to making the donation. Further information on appraisals and IRS guidelines for tax deductions can be found in our Tax Issues web page.

Materials the Library Needs

  • Hardbacks and quality paperbacks which may be of value to the NU research community
  • Video Tapes
  • Selected archival materials from Northwestern faculty, staff, students and alumni
  • Musical scores/recordings

Materials which may be less suitable for donation

  • Textbooks and workbooks
  • Inspirational literature
  • Newspapers and popular magazines
  • Mass media paperbacks
  • Journals (Our journals holdings are extensive, and many are held on microfilm or microfiche in addition to hardcopy; we therefore ask that you contact the gifts assistant before donating any journals, so that we may check our holdings for possible duplication.)
  • Materials which are photocopies, damaged, or extremely brittle

Please also read the Northwestern University Library Gift Policy before donating items.