ByJoanna Lacey

Sep 15, 2021
glasses on old book, open to pages showing map

An article about the challenges of recycling hardcover books put me in mind of the World Book Encyclopedia set that Dad bought for us in the early 1970s. Dad’s library also included hardcover books from the Time-Life series. They covered topics like “Ancient America” and “The Seven Wonders of the World.”

A set of encyclopedia and the yearbook that came every year with updated information was essential in any home back then. Before we had the internet, the whole world was between the covers of those books!

I fondly remember afternoons on the sofa, looking through those volumes, reading about the Maya civilization, ancient Pompeii, or any other fascinating topic. School nights spent researching a paper with a few volumes of the World Book were a big part of my childhood.

But, as sweet as these memories are, I have to admit that Dad’s library would have very little value in terms of what our children can use today. Much of the information is too outdated.

So, what do you do if you have a set of encyclopedias or outdated hardcover books that you can’t recycle and the local library won’t accept?

If you love them, and they evoke memories, maybe you want to make some room on your bookshelf to keep them.

You can also try to give them away. When my aunt passed away, we had to clean up her apartment quickly. She had so many hardcover books! We just didn’t have time to cart them all to the library. So, we left them out front in boxes with a “free books” sign. And you know what? They went! Someone wanted them.

Another terrific option is to see the pages of the books as a source of paper for crafts. Free art supplies! There can be amazing vintage illustrations, maps, and photos in an old “World Book” volume! There are all kinds of crafts for old books and paper on the internet.

I like the idea of preserving my memories of these old books — even if I won’t read them anymore. So, it’s nice to think that they can find a new home — or even a new life as part of a craft project, instead of ending up in the landfill.

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay. This article was originally published on April 24, 2019.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.