How to Donate Money and Materials to the Library

San Francisco Public Library accepts gifts of money to enhance library services through the provision of additional materials and services, as well as non-cash gifts of books and other materials. Gifts of money are the management responsibility of the Library's Finance Officer and the Office of the City Librarian. The Office of the City Librarian, in coordination with the Chief of Branches, the Chief of Main, the Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services and the Chief of Children and Youth Services, has ultimate responsibility for decisions regarding what gifts will be accepted.

Cash Gifts

Gifts of cash generally fall into three categories. Please refer to the San Francisco Public Library GIFT RECORD (PDF 31K) form.
For books and other materials for the collection
This is a gift of cash made specifically for the purpose of buying books and other library materials (e.g., CDs, DVDs, periodicals, etc.) for the collection. Donors may designate the gift for a specific branch library, the Main Library, or they may designate the gift for general use (either Branch Library System or Main Library). Donors may also specify whether the gift is for adult materials or children/youth materials.
For specific program support
This is a gift of cash for specific program support (excludes books and materials for the collection, covered in #1 above). Donors may designate the gift for a specific branch library, the Main Library, or they may designate the gift for a specific program purpose (e.g., Project Read, Children's Bookmobile, etc.). Donors must specify how they want the funds used.
For general library support
This is a gift of cash for general program support. Donors may designate the gift for a specific branch library, the Main Library, or system-wide support. The City Librarian will determine the best uses of these funds. Donors do not specify how funds will be used.
  • Donors of $25 or more may request that bookplates acknowledging their gifts be affixed to books whose purchase was made possible by their gifts.
  • Gifts of over $1,000 that restrict the Library's use of funds are to be accompanied by a letter to the City Librarian requesting the acceptance of funds for restricted use and must be authorized by the City Librarian prior to deposit or expenditure.
  • While the Library welcomes gifts designating funds for one or more areas in the collection, designating funds for specific titles cannot be accommodated.
  • All gifts of money will be acknowledged

Non-Cash Gifts

  1. Donations are accepted with the understanding that the Library has the right to determine the disposition of gift items. Materials not added to the Library's collections are offered to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library for their book sales (the proceeds of which are used to fund library programs), or may be shared with other appropriate institutions as part of the Library's Community Redistribution Program.
  2. Due to the large volume of gifts received, the Library cannot acknowledge, track or return unsolicited items received from publishers or individuals.
  3. Gift materials will be added only if they fall within the guidelines of the SFPL Collection Development Plan and the Library's goals and objectives. San Francisco Public Library applies the same standards of selecting gift materials to be added to its collections as it does when selecting materials for purchase.
  4. Examples of materials that may not be added to the collection include those that: are outdated, are in poor physical condition, lack any reviews or are poorly reviewed in professional reviewing sources, or are duplicates of items the Library already owns in sufficient quantity.
  5. The Library cannot accept magazine subscriptions purchased by the donor.
  6. Prior to accepting a large collection of materials, the donor shall provide the Library with sufficient information about the collection so that the Library may identify resources required for cataloging, processing, preservation and archiving of the materials. The Library shall consider these details for the existing collection as well as the details for its continuation, such as selection and addition of materials and continued funding. In many cases a Deed of Gift and/or a formal written donation agreement may be signed before the library accepts a large collection.
  7. The Library is not legally permitted to appraise the value of a non-cash gift. Donors who wish to have an evaluation of their gifts for tax purposes are referred to the IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property, and Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. If the value of a gift exceeds $500, the donor must submit a list giving author, title, place, publisher and date of all items and must complete the current edition of IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions. When the value exceeds $5,000, the donor must obtain an independent appraisal; the donor, appraiser and the Library must all sign IRS Form 8283. The donor pays for the cost of the appraisal, an expense that may be tax deductible. Because the Library is considered an interested party in the transaction, the IRS will not approve an appraisal made by the Library.

Gifts/Donor Disclosure Forms

Friends of the San Francisco Public Library

The Friends of the San Francisco Public Library accepts donations of materials which they sell to raise money for the Library. They will accept most hardcover and paperback books in good condition on all subjects. Donations may be taken to Book Bay at the Main Library, to the Book Donation Center at Ft. Mason Center or to the branches. Visit the Friends’ Donation Center at 438 Treat Avenue (between 17th and 18th Streets, near Harrison and Folsom). They accept donations on Monday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Larger donations—10 boxes or more—are eligible for pick up by the Friends Book Donation Van. Call 415-522-8600 for more information.  You may also bring small quantities of books to your branch library. Please call your branch ahead of time to let them know you are coming.

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