Library of Congress Surplus Program Invites Applications

loc.gifLibraries and partnering Friends groups often accept and “accession” book donations from private, local donors. Circulation collections everywhere are stronger for these added efforts. If you are enterprising and looking to expand those collections even further, consider looking into the Library of Congress Surplus Books Program.

The Surplus Books Program is, essentially, just what it sounds like. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., sets aside all books not needed for its own uses for distribution to qualifying organizations across the country. Eligible institutions include colleges, museums, school systems, state and federal agencies, and – of course – public libraries! (Under certain circumstances, Friends and other 501 nonprofits may participate without partnering with library staff.)

Books claimed through the program must be used to build collections, and cannot be immediately resold for fundraising.

The “catch,” so to speak, is that a representative of your organization must be on site at the Library of Congress to sift through and choose available titles. (You can, of course, deputize someone to take on those responsibilities on your behalf. This is quite common.) 

Requests are being accepted and evaluated on an ongoing basis. Applicants need only fill out a basic application and submit a brief letter, preferably on letterhead stationary, requesting approval to participate. Application materials and more information are available at