Library assistant explains why not all donations are accepted

Donating your used items is a good thing, right? Not always.

Viewer Jessica Raycon called to tell KHON2 hundreds of donated books are tossed out weekly at Kaimuki public library and asked us to find out why.

“How many donations do you get a week?” KHON2 asked library assistant Leona Espinosa. “Hundreds. Boxes, bags. That dumpster gets filled two, three times,” she said.

Espinosa says they can’t use books that have stains, bug droppings or pages torn, so they go in the dumpster. Magazines more than a year old are are also not good donations.

“‘Time,’ ‘Newsweek,’ ‘People’ — the things that change so quickly, you don’t want two years ago, people who aren’t even married anymore are on the cover,” Espinosa said. However, Espinosa says the library will accept “National Geographic” issues, no matter the year.

Espinosa says the state-funded library staff spends “several hours each day, (with) several different staff members” going through and sorting all donations, culling through usable and non-usable texts.

Employees spend roughly 15 hours a week at the Kaimuki branch alone, and while the Hawaii State Public Library System says it doesn’t keep statistics on this, officials say it’s a challenge at many branches across the islands.

“Is this more time than you expected taking away from librarian duties?” KHON2 asked Espinosa. “I was blown away when I first started working here,” she replied.

But don’t stop donating. Usable books are put on the shelves or sold at the annual Friends of the Library book sale at McKinley High School. Just think twice before you give it away.

“If you wouldn’t want to look at it or pay $1 for it, if it’s not clean or in good condition, why would we put it out for anyone else?” Espinosa said.

Other charities KHON2 called, including Goodwill, say they follow the same guidelines for donations.

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