A little while back I decided to give away all of my mass-market paperback books, because I can’t read small text anymore. My friend Karen suggested I donate them to LGBT Books to Prisoners, a local group. (https://lgbtbookstoprisoners.org/)
Today I took my three paper sacks down to their office. The office was buzzing! It’s in a basement of a community social-justice building. There are shelves full of books, a couple of desks with computers, a bathroom, and stacks of boxes. Four people sat at a table wrapping up packages in brown paper. Other people milled about filling requests and shelving books. I am acquainted with one of the coordinators of the project, and they showed me around.
It goes like this:
Grab a letter from the box. Read the letter, which may have specific requests for genre of book. Look on the form to see if there are any restrictions (such as no hard cover, no erotica, etc).
Fill the order by pulling books off the shelves. There are all kinds of sections, including classics, queer erotica, queer history, mystery, SF, African-American history, sports, etc.
Weigh your books
Write a short note to the person requesting books
Put rubber bands around the whole thing and put them in the pile to be wrapped.
They are aiming for 3000 packages sent by the end of the year.
I loved doing this. Donating my books to this group felt more personal than selling them or giving them to St. Vincent de Paul. I liked hanging around the other volunteers (one of whom is a friend of mine, one I vaguely recognized, and others were new faces). It made me think I should spend more time around queer folks in analog spaces. There is just something so comforting and relaxing about a space like this: social-justice focused, people working together and talking about books; and obviously queer. Plus, there were snacks.
The only hard part was standing on the concrete floor, which hurts my feet.