Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Non-profit book sales take a hit as Williamsburg Regional Library pauses donations

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

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

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

Last week, the library started allowing patrons to return previously checked-out materials but it still hasn’t resumed donation collection, said Barry Trott, the library’s special projects and technical services director.

Prior to the pandemic, people brought in thousands of material items for donation throughout the year, some of which would be used in WRL’s general collection, but most were sold through the Friends of Williamsburg Regional Library Foundation book nooks.

Friends of WRL is a nonprofit that helps garner monetary support for the local library system through various methods, such as selling items at the book nooks.

And while there is the opportunity to conduct sales online, with those book nooks closed when the library facilities shut down, the Friends of WRL is losing money.

The Friends of WRL earned $95,873 in 2019 from book nook sales at both library locations. Online sales, which are done through an independent contractor, were $9,217 in 2019.

“It’s definitely a certain amount of loss of income,” Trott said. “We’ve been closed to the public since March 13, so that’s a little over two months with no book sale revenue coming in.”

But that doesn’t mean the library isn’t finding supportive funds from other resources.

In the meantime, Trott said the library hasn’t seen a decrease in monetary donations. During Giving Tuesday Now — the first Tuesday in May — the library received more than $3,500 in donations which puts it slightly ahead of projected donations for the year.

When the library does finally reopen and continues to collect donations, Trott said he’s not sure if there will be an influx of donations from the community. 

In the past, people have donated as much as thousands of CDs to the library and hundreds of materials at one time either because they were moving or a relative died and they were clearing out their items. But people might have taken items they would’ve normally donated to the library to other collection places.

He said it’s a possibility as many people have taken this time to reorganize their homes and declutter their living spaces. 

But when the library allowed people to return previously checked-out items, Trott said the stream of returns was steady as opposed to all at once, which could be the trend for donations as well.

There isn’t currently an idea of when the library will begin collecting donations again.

“We don’t have a timeline right now for accepting donations because it’s dependent on so many different factors,” Trott said. It depends on what local governments do for phased re-openings and when we can get volunteers back in.”


Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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