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Memphis Public Library

Innovation Summary

Friends of the Library receive so many unusable books each year that they were disposed in library trash bins for years. We searched for ways to make money and keep the books out of landfills.

Problem Statement

Friends of the Library receive over 175,000 donated books yearly. Many of the books are dirty, torn, have water damage or have other damage that keep them from being sold in our bookstore or in our book sale or in our online book store. For years we threw these books in trash bins. We worried about the books winding up in landfills.


Finally, we found a company that not only recycled the books so they would not wind up in landfills, but they actually pay the Friends according to the price of paper monthly. We also found a non-profit company, Better World Books, which takes books to distribute them to Third World Countries. We are paid for that, as well.


The project of recycling has become so profitable, the library, who does not receive money from the City of Memphis for their recycling, has begun discarding their paper products in our recycling bins. Therefore, we receive more money from the recycling company and that money goes directly to support the library. It turned into a win, win situation.