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Oregon Used Books, Charitable Activities Law, and “Those Blue Bins”

About those Reading Tree and Thrift Recycling ManagementBlue Bins” (not to be confused with the Blue Screen of Death):
Just as when something labeled “natural” isn’t always natural or naturally good for you, something labeled “local” or “charitable” isn’t always local or charitable. (E.g. “natural” melatonin brownies may not be all that natural – just sayin’ – and so is the NYT.)  Sometimes local and charitable really is local and charitable or a little bit of either or both.
Anyway! — For anyone reading about the Reading Tree “Blue Bins,” and wanting to take a position, keep in mind that there are many facts to consider, including the one that books need to be recycled (or otherwise disposed of). There are many other issues to consider, too, such as:  free speech, marketing, and competition law, interstate commerce, small business, nonprofit, and tax exempt organizations law, and the law of charities.
The Oregon Department of Justice Charitable Activities Section has opened an investigation into Reading Tree and Thrift Recycling Management and is looking at some of those legal issues.  This does not mean there is anything wrong.  Remember that presumed innocent thing in our U.S. Constitution?
There is also the issue of “local-ness” (e.g. buy local, local food preferences).  Books donated to your local library for your own library’s book sales bring money in to your library to buy more reading materials (electronic and print and audio and digital a ebook, etc.) for your library.
The Oregon library community is looking for information, input, and fair dealing with the “Blue Bins” company, too, and librarians know that these, and most, things aren’t as simple as they appear at first blush.
For example, some libraries already work with the Blue Bin (Reading Tree) folks, and get their 25% local contribution.  The libraries have still experienced a drop in direct donations, but librarians are also fully aware that donors need convenient drop-off sites and that there are lot of after-sale books that need good homes or legitimate recycling.  The librarians know that they need partners in that “book sale” chain of events, with other charities and with book stores that sell used books as well.
Some libraries are approaching their local Chambers of Commerce to help everyone reach that sweet spot of business–charity balance, not to mention the landfill-recycling balance.
So, do a little reading and research before making any assumptions or drawing any conclusions.  And, talk to your local library and used-book bookstore owners too.
Sample online searches, but be creative and make your own!
oregon blue bins reading tree
reading tree used books
reading tree thrift management recycling
libraries reading tree used books donations
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