Gifts and Donations The Library

How to Donate to Howard University Libraries

The mission of the Howard University Libraries is to support excellence in learning, scholarship, innovation, and service in a user-centered environment as we preserve the black experience. 

Giving to the Library helps support our collection, and aides in providing quality research materials to help our students thrive intellectually. Here are some ways you can give to support our mission.

For Book Donations


The Howard University Library system is grateful for the generosity of its donors and welcomes gifts of materials that will significantly advance the scholarly, research, and teaching mission of the University.

The Howard University Library system accepts material donations/gifts-in-kind (GIKs) to help provide additional materials that might not otherwise be available to users of our collections, but only after mediation from the Director of Operations and Administration/ Divinity Librarian and appropriate disciplinary librarian(s).

Gifts to the Library benefit students and researchers at Howard University, as well as thousands of researchers and citizens throughout the region, the nation, and the world.

The GIK/Materials Donation Policy reflects the realities of managing a large library collection with a focus on specific needs for relevant materials required by students, faculty, and researchers. The Howard University Library system gladly accepts gifts that extend and complement existing library collections and retain the right to accept or decline all potential gifts.  The following guidelines are to assist donors: 

Donating Materials:

The University Libraries do not accept unsolicited donations via drop-off or mail.  Gifts are also not accepted without prior screening due to a number of factors including cost of assessment and processing, high likelihood of duplication within the existing collections, and difficulty in appropriate disposal.

If you would like to speak with the Library Administration about a possible donation, please contact Carrie Hackney, Director of Operations and Administration/ Divinity Librarian at or 202-806-0768 with details about the donation. Such inquiries must include:

  • Donor’s name and contact information
  • Estimated number of items
  • Author, title, and place and date of publication of each item
  • Publisher
  • Edition
  • Physical condition of each item
  • Donor’s affiliation with Howard University (if any)
  • Proposed date of delivery


Types of Donations that are Generally Considered Inappropriate:

All materials must be in excellent condition, no mold, red rot, nor brittle, stained, marked, or discolored pages. These are potentially harmful to existing collectionsThe Howard University Libraries do not accept the following:

  • Textbooks, workbooks, instructor’s manuals
  • Materials in poor condition (torn, marked up, mildewed, moldy, etc.)
  • Duplicate copies
  • LPs/Vinyl, VHS, and other obsolete media
  • Mass market paperbacks (Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror; or Mystery/Detective)
  • Outdated editions
  • Superseded legal, medical, and other professional books
  • Offprints, photocopies, reproductions of sound/video recordings, etc.
  • Printouts of “born-digital” resources
  • Specialized collections on subjects not taught at Howard University
  • Foreign language publications in languages not included in the curriculum
  • Periodicals (magazines, professional journals, etc.)
    [Exceptions: Issues which fill gaps in our collections of print journals.]
  • Exhibition Catalogs from other Universities

If the Libraries should somehow receive an unsolicited donation, it will not be returned to the donor.

Regardless of the size of the gift, it is the responsibility of the Director of Operations and Administration/ Divinity Librarian working with a donor to advise him or her that any donated material not added to the collection cannot be returned.

Moorland Spingarn Research Center is the exception to this rule, where donors are routinely asked to indicate whether items should be disposed of or returned. 

Accepting Significant Collections:

Significant collections are identified as collections that have at least one of the following physical characteristics:

  • are physically voluminous (over 100 items)
  • have potentially significant financial value (over $1,000 for a single item or over $5,000 for the collection as a whole)
  • are rare items
  • need individualized physical processing or specialized conservation work.

The Libraries have the obligation to our donors and to our collections to house, process, and preserve these materials in an appropriate manner. The Libraries also have the obligation to ensure that the collection fits the intellectual, curricular, and scholarly foci of the University.

Following initial screening by the appropriate disciplinary librarian(s), whenever a significant collection is being considered for acquisition by the Library, it must be reviewed by the Director of Operations and Administration/ Divinity Librarian in consultation, as appropriate, with the following units: Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, and subject specialists as indicated by the contents of the gift. They are responsible for assessing the handling and impact of the gift as it relates to the following areas:

  • Does the gift fit our collections intellectually?
  • Does the Library have the space to house the gift, from initial storage to final processing?
  • Does the Library have the staff and ancillary resources to process the gift in a timely fashion?
  • Does the gift require conservation, reformatting, or other significant preservation treatment?
  • Has the appropriate Deed of Gift and preliminary development work been arranged with campus Development including discussions on possible funding for processing and conservation?


The Libraries also encourage monetary support to cover the costs of processing larger collections. Donors who are able to assist the library by making contributions towards the cataloging and conservation of their donations are encouraged to do so.  Financial support enables us to timely preserve, process and thoroughly catalog the materials we collect, making them accessible to users, and helps us better meet the needs of researchers.

Disposition of Gift Materials:

All gifts are accepted with the understanding that, upon receipt, the University becomes the sole owner of the materials and reserves the right to determine its treatment and disposition. Gifts of materials that are accepted by the Libraries will not be returned to the donor for any reason. Once the Libraries take possession of an item, the Libraries are free to make all decisions regarding the materials in any manner they deem appropriate.

If the Libraries are unable to accept the donation, please consider the following organizations as additional outlets for donating books:

  • Better World Books
  • American Library Association's list of places for International Donation
  • Goodwill

Donor Information/Appraisal and Tax Requirements:

All prospective donors are encouraged to consult with their legal, tax, and/or financial advisors before making a gift. In compliance with Internal Revenue Service regulations, the Libraries are prohibited from appraising or estimating the value of any gift. The IRS provides useful information in its publication, Determining the Value of Donated Property, which is available at


A formal appraisal is required if deductions are sought for any gift valued at $5,000 or more. The Libraries do not pay for such appraisals and are not responsible for reviewing or authenticating the validity of such appraisals.  All appraisals must be completed before the donor transfers the property to the Libraries.

Independent, qualified appraisers may be found by consulting these sources:

  • Society of American Archivists
  • Appraisers Association of America
  • American Society of Appraisers
  • Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America

Rare Materials:

Gifts of substantial nature, or of uncommon value, are handled through the Howard University Office of the Vice-President of Development & Alumni Relations.

If interested in donating rare books or other unique/special materials to the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, please contact the Director, Dr. Benjamin Talton, at

Gift Acknowledgment

All gifts to the University Libraries are acknowledged by the Executive Director. An acknowledgment letter is written and mailed to the donor.

Conditions of Acceptance

Gifts are accepted with the understanding that they become the property of Howard University Library System (Founders, Architecture, Business, Divinity, and Social Work Libraries and Moorland-Spingarn Research Center) upon receipt and that the HULS may make all necessary decisions as to their retention, location, cataloging, and other considerations relating to their use and disposition.


Materials accepted but not added to the Library collections may be exchanged with other libraries throughout the world, sold, or disposed of through charitable organizations, or other means. We regret that we are not able to accept drop-offs of gift materials unless prior arrangements have been made.


All gifts will be reviewed by an appropriate curator or subject specialist prior to acceptance by the Library. Donors must provide a signed letter or send an email expressing their desire to give their materials to the library. Donors are encouraged to include the following information in their letter or email.


Donor name and contact information


The type of material (e.g., books, photographs, etc.)


A brief description of each item (in the case of booksauthor, title, publisher and date of publication)


In-kind gifts to the Howard University Library System may provide you with federal and state income tax benefits. In accordance with IRS regulations, the Library cannot appraise any donations; however, a letter of acknowledgement for volumes donated to the library will be sent to each donor. This letter may be used for income tax purposes. Donors wishing to claim a tax deduction may want to consult with their income tax preparer or the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for the proper procedure.


For Monetary Donations

Please follow the link below to give a monetary donation to our library. You donation will help to support student and faculty library services, enhance digitization initiatives, and support the infrastructure of our historic building. 


For General Inquiries

General inquiries about donating books or materials to the Howard University Library System may be directed to:

Alexandra Wilson, Administrative Officer, Howard University Libraries