Passing your books along.

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At some point in your life, you will have to decide the fate of your collection. Since you are the expert, it is much better for you to handle this yourself than to leave the task to your heirs or an executor. Make sure that your collection goes where it will be valued, used, and loved.

Selling your collection

If you have been careful to collect desired works in first edition and lovely condition, a children's specialist dealer or a dealer with a listed children's specialty may offer you 40-60% of their value (do not consult a general bookseller). You may also put your collection up for auction at a variable fee, preferably with other lots of children's books. If you have a collection with many books of little sales potential, for instance a topic collection which includes ex-libraries, be aware that a bookstore will not want to buy it if you have "cherrypicked" the valuable titles and sold them elsewhere.

Donating to an institution

If you have a collection that you have shaped, catalogued, researched and written about, and especially if you give your collection a maintenance stipend, an institution may accept your collection, keep it intact, and use it. Understand that if your collection duplicates existing holdings, or is too difficult to maintain, it will probably be sold. Please make sure your collection is culled, clean, and organized before you think about an institutional donation. A larger library will have a resource like the following: Fraser, James H. [Compiled by and with the Assistance of Renee Weber] CHILDREN'S AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS A Guide to Manuscript Collections in United Stated Research Libraries New York K. G. Saur 1980

Collectors sometimes donate a core collection to an institution and then add to it, helping to build the collection for the rest of their lives. This allows them to see others using and enjoying their books, much more rewarding than a tax deduction alone! You may find that a small college library is more open to receiving and maintaining your collection than a large research library, which will probably want to sell duplicate copies. Selecting a recipient, negotiating a collection donation, and physically packing and transporting the books will stretch over many months, so, again, early planning is best. A specialist collector may be able to help you with this.

Because of recent developments in Consumer Product Safety regulations, you may not be able to donate a collection of pre1985 books to a school for the use of children under 12. Booksellers are exempt from this regulation, and libraries may be, but schools are being cautious. Kind of hard to imagine all those generations of children suffering from brain damage as they read!

Passing the collection on to your family

If your collection has been formed for the enjoyment of yourself and your family, you have a treasure to pass down. It's quite likely that you will have assembled more than the average household can absorb, but you and your children can have fun sitting down and deciding which books to keep. Be sure your family knows what each book meant to you and where you were when you first read it. Include dates. You could write notes in the books or on acid free pages laid in. Even if the books somehow leave your family, someone, some day, will value the provenance you have provided and enjoy reading your thoughts and memories.

c. 2007, 2009 Suzanne Price. An earlier version of this article appeared on the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) Rare Book Room in 2002