And the Books Lived Happily Ever After…

burlington county recycling library

Once upon a time, a little library lived in a massive county recycling center. The little library was called the Burlington Township Recycling Library, and the books were free to readers both large and small. How cool is that?

I learned about the the Burlington Township Recycling Library from a friend, who used to make trips there when his kids were little. He explained that you are welcome to drop by, browse, and take home any books you want. When you are done with them, be it 3 weeks or 3 years, you are welcome to re-donate them so they can continue on their merry way. Not unlike a little free library initiative, except on a much larger scale. Last week, I stopped by to check it out.

dr dana browsing recycling libraryThe Burlington Township Recycling Library is basically a trailer with shelves lining 3 walls. There is also a double-sided line of shelves down the center.

shelves in recycling library

By the entrance of the trailer, under two windows, is the children’s section. It boasts this colorful little table and chair set…

table and chairs in recyling libraryAnd this loving rendering of the Lorax:

lorax art in recycling libraryTechnically, the library’s shelves are divided into sections (Romance, New Fiction, Mystery, Religion, etc.). But I’m convinced that after the sun sets, the books come to life and sort themselves higgledy-piggledy, traveling to different shelving sections according to their whims and not their herd mentalities. It does makes for some interesting browsing. Here are a couple treasures my friend and I unearthed:

Hands up if you followed the adventures of Jessica and Elizabeth when you were in middle school! Awwwww yeah.

This one actually went home with me…

I love two things about this book. The fact that the spine was repaired with duct tape…

And its super cool illustrations. Like this mouse knight…

But the book also had weird, slightly disturbing illustrations like this one. Whoa.

There were some foreign language books lurking on the shelves as well. I can only guess the plot of this one. Occult detective art heist?

But the real archeological find was a cassette tape section. There were some albums, but there were also homemade mixes. Including the pirated soundtracks to Legend AND Labyrinth.

The library was unstaffed when we were there, but volunteers do stop by to process donations (which you simple leave in a basket) and tame the shelves. However, through some complicated dance with the power breaker and window AC unit, the library lights went on the fritz after just 10 minutes. Then they died completely.


Honestly, with all the 80s books and flickering lights, I was positive the Demogorgon was going to burst through the wall, forcing us to escape on our banana seat bicycles.

All kidding aside, I really like the concept of this recycling library, and it was fun to dig through the books to see what I could find. Relying on donations and the efforts of volunteers, the Burlington County Recycling Library seems a fairly low cost way to keep the community reading, and to keep books circulating on new adventures.