Nonprofit book sales take a hit as Williamsburg Regional Library suspends donations

The Williamsburg Regional Library is collecting borrowed library books during the coronavirus. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

As the Williamsburg Regional Library changed its operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, it also stopped collecting material donations.

When WRL first closed in mid-March, many different programs and operations moved to online platforms. But the library also had to suspend regular activities such as authorizing book returns and collecting donations of CDs, DVDs and books.

The library last week began allowing patrons to return previously borrowed materials, but it still hasn’t resumed collecting donations, said Barry Trott, the library’s director of special projects and technical services.

Before the pandemic, people brought in thousands of material items to donate throughout the year, some of which would be used in the general WRL collection, but most were sold through the Friends of Williamsburg book corners. Regional Library Foundation.

Friends of WRL is a non-profit organization that helps secure financial support for the local library system through various methods, such as selling items at book corners.

And while there is the possibility of online sales, with those book corners closed when the library facilities closed, the Friends of LMR are losing money.

Friends of WRL earned $95,873 in 2019 from book corner sales at the two libraries. Online sales, which are made through an independent contractor, totaled $9,217 in 2019.

“It’s definitely some revenue loss,” Trott said. “We’ve been closed to the public since March 13, so it’s been just over two months without any revenue from book sales.”

But that doesn’t mean the library doesn’t find support funds from other resources.

Meanwhile, Trott said the library hasn’t seen a decrease in cash donations. During Giving Tuesday Now — the first Tuesday in May — the library received more than $3,500 in donations, putting it slightly ahead of planned donations for the year.

When the library finally reopens and continues to collect donations, Trott said he doesn’t know if there will be an influx of donations from the community.

In the past, people have donated up to thousands of CDs to the library and hundreds of documents at a time, either because they moved or because a relative died and they emptied their items. But people may have taken items they would normally donate to the library to other collection locations.

He said that’s a possibility because many people have taken this time to revamp their homes and declutter their living spaces.

But when the library allowed people to return previously borrowed items, Trott said the flow of returns was steady as opposed to all at once, which could also be the trend for donations.

There is currently no idea when the library will start collecting donations again.

“We don’t have a timeline at this time for accepting donations, as it depends on a lot of different factors,” Trott said. It depends on what local governments do for phased reopenings and when we can get volunteers back. »