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What to do with ARCs?

A week ago many librarians (and some non-librarians) returned from the ALA Midwinter Meeting. And as expected, posts went up about ALA. A debate ensued-how should you act at events like ALA or BEA? Should you be greedy and take lots of ARCs for your blog? What about the librarians that are members of ALA and attend? And what to do with ARCs after you hauled a bunch home? Many bloggers have responded to this and they have said it all much better than I can, so I encourage you to check out their posts:

Kelly at Stacked on the line between Blogger and Librarian
Kelly also has a great post about the ethics of what to do with ARCs and selling them (which is unethical-I agree!)
Jennie at BiblioFile on greediness at conferences
Colleen at Chasing Ray on "Winning ALA"
April at Good Books and Good Wine on Professionalism and Blogging

Since there's been some discussion about ARCs, I thought I would share about what I do with ARCs. Most I get by attending ALA, but I also have built my blog up after four years of blogging that I am sent books from publishers as well. Not a lot, but enough to provide a good TBR pile. (Plus add in all my library books, books I buy and books I already have owned and I have a very large, ever growing TBR pile!!) I didn't start my blog with ARCs and I actually didn't start receiving ARCs until about two years into my blogging. I still feel weird about requesting a book from a publisher because I know I already have a million other books to read and I don't need to read it right now-I can wait until it comes out! So what do I do with the ARCs I do receive?

A few years ago, I attended my first ALA. It was overwhelming, and yes, it was easy to come back with a car full of books (that's the downside to driving-more space for swag!) I had noticed that attendance in our Teen Library Council was down and the teens were really interested in discussing books. So I made a galley check out list for the teens and if they attended TLC, they could "check out" an ARC from the YA Office. In return, they had to fill out a short review form. They could have three a month, and then each meeting they'd tell me what they liked, didn't like, who they would recommend the book to, should we buy it, etc. This was a great way to get feedback from the teens and it was the incentive the teens needed to attend TLC Meetings. It also worked well because I had some teens who had fines on their library cards and weren't allowed to check books out because they were over the limit, so the ARCs gave them a way to still get books from the library.

Word also got around to my co-workers that I had a stash of ARCs and if there was a popular book the staff wanted to read, they would pass it around and build buzz. This was a great way to get staff reading YA and it also kept the hold list lower because staff wasn't having to place holds on the book, freeing library copies up for patrons. We passed around an ARC of Divergent after the teens read it and loved it and it was so great to see my library staff talking up a YA book with each other and with the patrons who would come in looking for a new book to read.

Most ARCs didn't stand up well-after about three teens borrowed it, it would be falling apart (ARCs are not nicely bound copies so they are not meant to wear well). The ones that fell apart we would recycle. The ones that were still in good condition would sometimes be prizes and most would get donated.. My teens also love doing Read-A-Thons and I provide prizes for these events, some of which are ARCs so they can leave with a new book to read. I also use ARCs as prizes if we have a special program-like if we're doing a zombie program and I have an ARC about zombies, I'll give it as a prize.

After the teens have had a chance to read them and I've used some as prizes, I donate the ARCs. ARCs can not be sold and should not be sold to used book stores. They are also not supposed to make their way onto library shelves as part of the collection. So where can you donate them?

I donate mine to a Teen Crisis Organization in my hometown that works to help homeless teens, teens caught in domestic violence, and teens needing a safe place to go for respite care. When my mom delivered the boxes of ARCs-and some finished copies I had, the workers were so amazed that someone would think of them and their services to teens. This is an organization that doesn't get a lot of people thinking of them and donating them. These are teens who need books and may never have a chance to have a book of their own and now they can.

My mom also told me about a local juvenile court judge in her area that has bookcases in his courtroom. As he sees each case, he encourages the kids and teens to take a book from the shelf and keep it. She inquired about how they get books to put on the shelf and they come from donation, so I've started donating my ARCs and other books I want to clear off my shelves to this judges bookshelf.

And last, I donate some books to local teachers who are struggling to maintain a classroom set of books to encourage their students to read during free reading time. These teachers have no budget and are often purchasing books from their own personal funds to get their students to read.

There are lots of ways to donate your ARCs if you have them. And if you don't have an ARC, guess what? It's OK. The book will come out and you can check it out from your library. You'll still get a chance to read it. But if you have ARCs, think about donating them to someone in need-you'll make their day and you'll feel good about sharing the joy of reading.


  1. I really, really like the idea of donating to teen crisis centers. A lot. I'm going to have to investigate if my community has something similar. Most of the ARCs I have left have been picked through by my teens and are ready for new homes.

  2. Funny you should bring this up. My husband and I were with some friends wandering around Half Price Books. I spotted several ARCs on the shelves. (I didn't say anything to the employees.)My husband came over to me with an ARC to buy. He knew what it was, that was the appeal to him... the fact that there are few copies out there. He paid $8 for it. Even though it clearly stated on the front cover NOT FOR SALE.
    I still didn't say anything to them because I would have embarrassed my husband and our friends.

  3. Sarah-Me too. I'd rather donate them to a place like that that doesn't often get thought of when it comes to donations and they really want to provide for the teens.

    YA Reader-I've seen some ARCs in Half Price Books before as well. It drives me crazy, since it so obviously says "not for sale" on the cover. Plus, I can't believe they would sell it for that much when it's not even a finished book!

  4. Teen Crisis center is brilliant. I use to donate to an organization like that one. GREAT post.

  5. I use them (mostly the ones I get from BEA) for summer reading prizes. and the teens enjoy them. Sometimes they're even signed

    I give some to other librarians and I pass others along to family members.

  6. When I volunteered at a juvenile detention center in college, they weren't allowed to have hardcover books in the center (weapon potential), so that's an area that definitely need ARCs so the teens there can read newer releases.

  7. I use to donate the few ARCs I received to my public library thinking they would make great giveaway prizes for their reading program but found out that they really don't want them. Instead I pass them onto school librarians who have their own TAB-like boards as well as to charity organizations.

    I'm always appalled whenever I see ARCs on sale at a library used book sale!

  8. Juju-Thanks! I have to give my mom the credit for thinking of it!:)

    YABookNerd-If I have signed ones, those always make great prizes.

    Katie-Yes-that's a great idea! I've seen posts on the YALSA listserv about that and paperbacks are all they can have.

    Rummanah-Me too! That's why I started putting a sticker on my ARCs that I loan out to the teens that says "Please return to the teen librarian" and the library name and my name. I've also highlighted the sticker in bright yellow-can't be missed! More of them get returned instead of dropped into the bookdrop that way.

  9. I donated most of the ARC's that I got from BEA to my library. They gave them away to teens that attended their Teen Book Fest. I love giving them away to libraries because they are so grateful. I still do giveaways from time to time on my blog, but have stopped a lot of that because I just can't afford to do that much shipping.

  10. My middle-school level ARCs go to my teacher friends to supplement their classroom libraries for silent reading. The kids love finding the mistakes in the books, apparently, and think it's "awesome" they can read something before it comes out.

  11. SO MANY GREAT IDEAS HERE. I love Stacked and I thought Kelly has done a great job of talking about ARC issues. You just gave me TONS of great ideas for what to do with ARCs if/when I ever get some of my own :)

  12. I have a coworker whose husband works at a detention center as a psychiatrist. I give hime my ARC's to put in their library and/or to give to the teens.

  13. AWESOME post! I am in the process of cleaning up my bookshelves and I have a few ARCs that need new homes. I do not know if my local library will have use of them, but I would not have considered a teen crisis center! I will have to check all these other suggestions out :)

  14. Greetings!

    I love how you use your ARCs. Great ideas, especially the thoughtful donations.

    As an author, I seethe when I see people selling ARCs. It is unethical . . . especially when there are innovative ways to use them so well.

    All best,

  15. There are so many children who don't have their own books that it's great to donate them somewhere. Great minds think alike-- I posted about this on the same day! And if I haven't said it already, I love the green and orange background. I'm a bit jealous!

  16. I've followed your blog for a few years now and I've always been impressed by the ways you share books, ideas and inspirations for reading. The teens are lucky to have you for their librarian!

    I've never attended any of the book conferences (although I hope to!) and we don't have any bookstores within an hour of us so my library has always been very important to me and I'm there every week. I do get ARCs sometimes to review on my book blog and when I'm done with them I always pass them on and have never, ever sold one. I give them to someone I know, to my library or I host a contest on my blog. I do that with many of the books that I've won also. My TBR pile is large and I'm not getting through it as fast as I'd like but I'm happy to share them once I finally finish them. Thanks for a great post!

  17. I love hearing about what everyone does with ARCs. It can be a tricky thing to follow. I also love that there's so much library love in the comments-you guys are awesome!:)


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