What To Do With Old Encyclopedias: A Unique and Easy DIY with Video

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Are you wondering what to do with old encyclopedias? We had very outdated set of old encyclopedias, and they had sat on our shelves untouched for years. The Salvation Army, Goodwill, thrift store, the local public library, local school library, local recycling center, etc won’t take donations of encyclopedias anymore.

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Are you wondering what to do with old encyclopedias? I figured out a way to reuse them in our home without damaging them!

Compared to older sets of encyclopedias, our old world book encyclopedias were in good condition, these reference books were just outdated. Since these books were of historical value but little value to most I wanted to find a purposeful use for them in my home. So I figured out a way to reuse them in our home without damaging them! Just wait until you see what I do with this old encyclopedia set! It’s a great way to use those print encyclopedias.

What To Do With Old Encyclopedias Video

Here's a picture of our old encyclopedias. I moved them to our living room.

Here’s a picture of our old encyclopedias. I moved them to our living room.

I bought 2 of these trays from the Target Dollar Spot.

I bought 2 of these trays from the Target Dollar Spot.

I started by stacking the encyclopedias on either side of a bench we have in our living room.

I started by stacking the encyclopedias on either side of a bench we have in our living room.

I placed a tray on top of the book stacks.

I placed a tray on top of the book stacks.

Now I have side tables in our living room which is also our reading room.

Now I have side tables in our living room which is also our reading room.

You can see how to make my Zen Garden here

I decided I wanted to try another version, so I spiraled the books in and added the tray on top. I really love how this one turned out. Which one do you like better?

I decided I wanted to try another version, so I spiraled the books and added the tray on top. I really love how this one turned out. Which one do you like better?

We had a set of very out dated encyclopedias, and they had sat on our shelves untouched for years. Thrift Stores, Libraries, etc won't take them anymore. So I figured out a way to reuse them in our home without damaging them!

I’m thrilled I saved them from the garbage bin! You could do this with old hardcover books and old dictionaries too. If you’re looking for what to do with telephone directories, then you might be interested in my trivet DIY

Places you might be able to donate or place old books:

  • rare bookseller
  • old book collectors
  • local library
  • retail sites
  • book store
  • craigslist
  • library fundraisers
  • second-hand bookstores like half price books
  • school district
  • old bookshops
  • resale organizations
  • local theater
  • another good home

How do I know if a book is worth something?

  • Check out the companyโ€™s website
  • What is the age of the books
  • Is it a complete encyclopedia, an entire set (full 32-volume print edition), and is it a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition
  • Are the textbooks out of date, does it meet educational standards or is it lack of relevance
  • Check and see if they are rare editions by looking inside the pages of the hardcover book
  • Are they in clean condition
  • No missing pages and the front and back covers are in great shape.

Find out โ€œWhat Exactly Does It Mean To Repurpose Or Upcycle“, save money, and create the most amazing things.

What to do with old Encyclopedias Q & A

Are encyclopedias still printed?

The World Book Set Encyclopedia is the only one still published.

Can I recycle encyclopedias?

Paperback books can be recycled. Books with hardcovers, like an old set of encyclopedia Britannica, take a bit more work before putting them in the recycling bin. In most cases, the book pages need to be separated from the hardcover. You can then recycle the paper waste or use it for composting. Always check with your local recycler.

Is there any reason to keep old encyclopedias?

Absolutely! While old encyclopedias may be outdated in terms of providing accurate information, they still hold historical and sentimental value. They can be great for nostalgic purposes, as well as for decorative and DIY projects. By repurposing them, you can give these books a new life and add unique elements to your home decor. So, instead of discarding them, consider finding creative ways to reuse and showcase your old encyclopedias.

Are old encyclopedias worth anything?

The value of old encyclopedias can vary depending on various factors. Factors like the age, condition, completeness, and rarity of the set can determine its worth. Some vintage or limited-edition encyclopedias might hold value among collectors, while others may not be as valuable. However, it is always a good idea to research and consult with experts, such as rare book dealers or appraisers, to get a better understanding of the potential value of your specific set of encyclopedias.

What can I do with old encyclopedias?

There are numerous creative ways to repurpose old encyclopedias and give them a new life. Here are a few ideas:

1. Decorative displays: Arrange the books on shelves, use them as bookends, or create unique sculptures or art pieces with their pages.

2. DIY projects: Turn the pages into beautiful paper crafts like origami, decoupage, or handmade bookmarks.

3. Gift wrapping: Use the pages as unique and vintage-inspired wrapping paper for presents or as decorative elements in gift wrapping.

4. Upcycled furniture: Transform the books into a one-of-a-kind side table, coffee table, or even a lamp base.

5. Educational tools: Cut out interesting illustrations or articles to use for collages, scrapbooking, or as visual aids in educational projects.

6. Donation: If the encyclopedias are in good condition and still useful, consider donating them to local schools, libraries, or organizations that may appreciate them.

Remember, the possibilities are endless, and with a little creativity, you can find a meaningful and purposeful use for your old encyclopedias.

Does anyone take old encyclopedias?

Finding places that accept donations of old encyclopedias can be challenging as many institutions and organizations no longer accept them due to their outdated content. However, there are still some options to explore:

1. Local libraries: While many libraries no longer accept encyclopedias, it’s worth reaching out to your local library and ask a librarian to see if they have any specific programs or needs that may make them willing to take them.

2. Second-hand bookstores: Some second-hand bookstores may be interested in purchasing or accepting donations of old encyclopedias for resale, particularly if they’re in good condition or possess value to collectors.

3. Online platforms: Consider listing your old encyclopedias on platforms like eBay, Craigslist, or even specialty book-selling websites that cater to collectors and enthusiasts.

4. Donation centers: While donation centers like the Salvation Army or Goodwill typically don’t accept encyclopedias, it’s still worth inquiring with local centers as policies can vary.

5. Educational institutions: Local schools, community centers, or homeschooling groups may have a use for outdated encyclopedias for art projects, reference material, or classroom displays.

6. Garage Sale: You never know when you’ll find someone who is looking for a World Book Encyclopedia set.

Remember, it’s advisable to contact these places in advance to confirm whether they accept old encyclopedias before making arrangements for donation.

Can you get money for old encyclopedias?

The potential to receive money for old encyclopedias will largely depend on various factors such as their condition, rarity, and demand from collectors or antique enthusiasts. While some vintage or limited-edition encyclopedias may hold value and be sought after by collectors, the majority of outdated encyclopedias do not have significant monetary worth.

To determine if your specific set of encyclopedias has any value, consider consulting with rare book dealers, appraisers, or browsing online platforms to see if similar editions are being sold and at what price. Keep in mind that the market for old encyclopedias can be limited, so managing expectations is important.

Alternatively, you can explore options like selling them through online marketplaces, local bookstores, or participating in book fairs or antique shows where collectors might be present. Lastly, donating them or repurposing them creatively may be a better option if monetary gain is not the primary goal.

Where can I sell my old encyclopedias?

When it comes to selling old encyclopedias, here are a few potential avenues you can explore:

1. Online marketplaces: Platforms like eBay, AbeBooks, or Amazon allow users to sell used books like an encyclopedia set on the internet, including old encyclopedias. Ensure you accurately describe the condition and specifications of your set to attract potential buyers and rare book collector.

2. Specialty book marketplaces: Websites specifically catering to rare and antique books, such as Biblio or Alibris, may attract collectors interested in purchasing old encyclopedias. These platforms often have a dedicated audience looking for unique editions.

3. Local bookstores: Some second-hand or independent bookstores might be interested in purchasing or consigning old encyclopedias if they believe there is resale value. Contact local bookstores and inquire about their policies for buying used books.

4. Book fairs and antique shows: Participating in book fairs or antique shows can expose your old encyclopedias to collectors who appreciate vintage literature. Research upcoming events in your area and explore the possibility of setting up a booth.

Remember, the value of old encyclopedias can vary, so it’s always helpful to do some research, compare prices, and consider consulting with experts or appraisers to have a better understanding of their potential worth.

What to do with old Encyclopedias Video

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Are you wondering what to do with old encyclopedias? I figured out a way to reuse them in our home without damaging them!

I hope this inspires you to use your older encyclopedias in an environmentally friendly way. We will still be using ours, and we are embracing the online version on our home computers and smartphone as well.

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  1. That is a cool idea and perfect for a reading space. The Target dollar spot always has such good stuff. My sister is a librarian and this would be so cool in the high school library where she works.

    1. Thank you Jenny and I love that idea of something like this in your sister’s library. Love that Target dollar spot ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What a lovely eureka moment using old books to create these side tables! Perfect for avid readers, librarians or anyone who enjoys having books around them!

    1. Thank you so much Gail, I’m so glad they could be put to some good use and not just be taken to the dump.

  3. What a unique way to use those old encyclopedias! I love the spiral look best.

    1. Thank you Beverly and that’s my favorite too.

  4. How ingenious! Truly a unique idea and it turned out great. I actually like the first version the best:) xo Kathleen

    1. Thank you so much Kathleen, and thanks for weighing in – fun to see what everyone likes best.

    1. You’re so sweet Molly, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. This is such a cool project. I have tons of old books in my basement. I would love to make this!

    1. Thank you so much Michelle – it’s a great way to use them without damaging anything too

  6. Thatโ€™sa May idea for reusing something like books that doesnโ€™t destroy them.

  7. Such a great idea and anyone can do this!

  8. We have a set of outdated encyclopedias and as much as I love this idea, it would be hard for me to do this to ours since they were a gift from my late in-laws. You’re very clever with re-purposing old stuff.

    1. Thank you and I totally understand. When I made this I wanted to be sure not to damage the books… just in case ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I love the look of them when they are spiraled! We had so many of those growing up, it brings back memories!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you Meredith, and I love it when a project speaks to someone and brings back memories. Thanks for sharing.

  10. So simple but makes a statement! A great way to reuse those old books! #trafficjam #trafficjamweekend

    1. Thank you so much Antionette – love that they’re getting used in some way

  11. Iam thinking of making something like this for a fundraiser for our small library in town. Thanks- traffic Jam weekend Linky party.

    1. Thank you Lisa, and I’m thrilled you want to make one too. Please send me pictures if you do

  12. Totally awesome! I find the spiral fascinating. Is it as steady as the other version?

    Thanks for linking up to Creative Compulsions!

    1. Thank you so much Michelle, and yes both are really stable because they’re so heavy.

  13. I like to give books away, but old reference or text books aren’t suitable for passing on. I like that this gives them a new purpose. I like the straight arrangement better.

    1. Thank you so much Aletha. I totally agree to passing books on, and this is great for any that are outdated, not relevant, and no one wants anymore.

  14. As an avid reader and writer I LOVE this idea! Visiting you from the hello monday link up. laurensparks.net

    1. Thank you so much Lauren, I’m thrilled you love it.

  15. Love this idea! My favorite is the spiral. Are you going to make the stack permanent? Following to see.

    1. Hi Frani, thank you so much. I haven’t made it permanent just in case there ends up being some one who needs them or they are useful in their original state to someone.

  16. My first thought was I need to go to Target to get one of those trays! Love those. I think I like the spiral version the best. It is more visually interesting. And you can go ahead and box up the Peanuts plush set and send them to my house too. LOL Thanks for sharing your post with us at #HomeMattersParty. I will be checking out the monthly Thrift Store Challenge for next month.

    1. Thank you Donna, and I’m thrilled you like it, the trays, and the Peanuts gang ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your input, I like them best that way as well.

  17. I love what you did with the encyclopedias. We had two old sets from my parents’ house that we had to get rid of. I should have been as resourceful as you instead! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you Lisa, and I totally understand. It was hard just watching them sit on the shelves, and when no one takes them – what do you do.

  18. What a fabulous way to re-use and upcycle the encyclopedia’s giving them a new lease of life! I love the spiral design best! Sim x #TrafficJam

    1. Thank you so much Sim, I am liking that one better too ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. What a clever idea! Love the color of them too, we had cream ones growing up and these look so much “richer”. Hard to believe my kids probably don’t know what an encyclopedia is!!

    1. Thank you Pamela, and that made me giggle because you’re right on who knows what an encyclopedia is anymore. My kids didn’t know what a cart catalog was either.

  20. I tend to think old encyclopedias and dictionaries are going to be collectible someday. We all grew up (pre 1980s people) with a set on the bookshelf! #littlecottagelinkparty

    1. I hope so, that’s one reason I didn’t glue or damage the books when using this method ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. This is such a clever idea. I love it! I’ve featured it today at Thursday Favorite Things.

    1. Thank you so much Pam and thank you so very much for the feature. You’ve made my day

  22. I love this idea, especially the spiral version. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned.

    1. Thank you Teresa, and thanks for casting your vote. See you at the next party.

  23. I love the spiral version.
    We have a fabulous place not too far from us called the Book farm. It’s a load of old farm buildings that has been converted into a second hand book shop. It’s just fabulous. It goes on and on, book heaven. They have comfy sofas every now and again and log burners so you can cosy up and look at a book or two before you buy. Anyway, the point of this story is that they have a table similar to this by one of their sofas but it’s a fake, made to look like books but not really. I think I shared it on IG a few years ago as I liked it so much! I like yours even more!!!

    1. Thank you and thanks so much for sharing that with all of us. The book store sounds absolutely fantastic!

  24. What a great idea, the spiral version looks so cool!

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