Donating Books and Journals to HSL

Call: 919-962-0500 or Email:

How do I donate books or journals?

  • The Health Sciences Library accepts books and journals on a selective basis. Some of the library’s most important materials have been gifts, but we are not always able to add all gifts to the library’s collections.
  • Please contact the library’s Information Access and Discovery Department to discuss donating your materials (919-962-0500 or
  • Let us know the size of your donation, the subject areas, the titles if practicable, and the general range of dates. For journals, we request that you provide a list with volumes and dates.
  • Staff will respond to let you know if the gift will be suitable for this library and how to arrange delivery.

Are there other ways to contribute to the Health Sciences Library?

What books and journal gifts does the library want?

  • The library is interested in books that are in good condition that are of historical importance or those that augment or fill gaps in the collection.
  • We also accept specific journal issues or volumes that complete library holdings and occasionally accept longer runs of journal titles not in our collection.
  • The library is particularly interested in North Carolina publications and documents, as well as early materials relating to health and health care.
  • The library seeks books authored or edited by UNC Health Affairs faculty.
  • Professional libraries or archives of Health Affairs faculty and others might also be considered for the library’s collections. Please inquire about items that you have available.

Can I give the library my own current copies of a journal received through a membership or through a paid personal subscription?

  • The library cannot legally accept ongoing donations of journals received through a membership or a paid personal subscription.
  • Publishers price personal or membership subscriptions with the assumption that they will be used by an individual rather than a potentially large audience at an institution. Use of donated current subscription materials by an institution could be considered a copyright infringement.

What happens to the books that I donate to the library?

  • Most books will be circulated to any patron who wants to use them.
  • If your books are of historical value, they may be added to the Historical Collection for in-library use.
  • A bookplate honoring your gift may be added to the book on your request. A note marking the book as your gift will be permanently added to the library catalog unless requested otherwise.

What can I do with those journals and books the library cannot use?

Selling and Donating

  • Local rare or used book dealers may be interested in older books in good condition.
  • Back issue vendors may be interested in runs of journals. The vendors will want a detailed list of volumes and issues and are only interested in full and often only in recent volumes.
  • Libraries in developing countries may be interested recent journals and texts up to ten years old. Note that most developing countries will expect the donor to pay shipping costs.


  • Sometimes there is nothing to do but recycle or discard unwanted books and journals. Information on recycling can be obtained from the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department.
  • Bound journals and hardback books must have the covers removed before being deposited in recycling receptacles.
  • Unbound journals issues can also be recycled at the Orange County Convenience Center on Eubanks Road or at the recycling area behind the University Mall in Chapel Hill.

How can I tell the value of my donation?

  • The library is prohibited by law from appraising donations or assigning monetary value to your gift, but does send a letter of acknowledgment that may be used for tax purposes if your gift is valued at under $5000.
  • If you wish to determine a value for tax purposes, you should retain an independent appraiser to evaluate your collection before donating it to the library.
  • The Association of College and Research Libraries has an online guide, Your Old Books, that addresses frequently asked questions about the value of rare and older books.
  • The American Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association lists bookdealers in numerous specialties who can often times assist in evaluating books.
  • In addition, you may also be able to identify a price range for books and other items by using one of the web sites for bookdealers, such as AbeBooks or BookFinder.
Last modified: 10/05/18