MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University’s Olson Library has entered into a partnership with Better World Books, a business dedicated to getting more mileage out of used books by turning them into funding for non-profit literacy programs, providing an environment-friendly recycling option. The business was founded in 2001 by University of Notre Dame graduates heading a book drive.
SaraJane Tompkins of academic information services at NMU said Olson Library is in the process of weeding out unusable books from its collection. These materials are being sorted according to the criteria set by Better World Books, which are intended to keep books that are falling apart out of rotation.
NMU is in its second month of participating in the program. Tompkins said that 92 percent of the books withdrawn from the Olson Library collection will be sent to Better World Books. The business sends a statement every quarter detailing the success with which books contributed by NMU have been resold. Tompkins said Olson Library receives a 20 percent share of whatever profits are made from the resale, plus another 15 percent to donate to a charity of its choice.
“Right now we have no investment at all, and for no investment we may be getting some money back, which is a great thing because the library is always trying to figure out how to stretch the dollar,” Tompkins added.
Better World Books attempts to locate buyers for the donated books for one year. Materials not sold within that time period are recycled. Nothing goes to waste. According to the company’s Web site, one in seven books is donated to developing countries in Africa.
“It’s an excited group of young people trying to make a difference with simple things, and I think it’s a good thing for us to support that,” Tompkins said.