A Unique and Easy Way Reuse Old Encyclopedias and Books In Your Home

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Are you wondering what to do with an old encyclopedia set? We had very outdated encyclopedia sets, and they had sat on our shelves untouched for years.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.

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older sets of encyclopedias, our old world book encyclopedias were in good condition, these reference books were just outdated.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!

A Unique and Easy Way Reuse Old Encyclopedias and Books In Your Home 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
  • craigs list
  • library fundraisers
  • second-hand bookstores like half price books
  • school district
  • old bookshops
  • resale organizations

How do I know if a book is worth something?

  • check out the company’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 text books out of date, does it meet educational standards or is it a 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

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

Are encyclopedias still printed?

The World book 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.

What to do with old encyclopedias Video

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

Share it with others!

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58 Comments

  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 πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚

  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. That’sa May idea for reusing something like books that doesn’t destroy them.

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

  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 πŸ™‚

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

    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?

    Michelle
    mybijoulifeonline.com
    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 πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚

    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 πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚

  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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