How to Send Books

The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil and the Hester J. Hodgdon Libraries for All Program primarily need books in Spanish to support lending library programs in Central America. If you would like to contribute used or surplus books, you can use one of the shipping methods outlined below. If you are planning to ship large quantities of books or need additional assistance, please contact Jane Mirandette at

Note that we are able to get substantial discounts from wholesalers and publishers for orders of new books, and are also able to base our orders on the needs of the library. If you are interested in helping purchase new materials, please consider making a financial contribution so that we may make the most efficient use of your donation.

Shipping to HJH Program in Colorado

The HJH Program is able to accept books at its address in Colorado for re-shipment to Central America. You may wish to use USPS “book rate,” which offers shipping of books at reduced cost.

The address in Colorado is:

HJH Libraries for All Program
1716 Del Norte Blvd.
Loveland, CO 80538

More Shipping Methods and Helpful Hints for the Transport of Books to Central America Ask to use a supporter’s stateside postal service. Many North Americans living in Central America make use of a re-mailing forwarding service usually based in the U.S. For a monthly fee, products or mail can be sent to this stateside address and re-mailed to the intended recipient. Thirty-five pounds can cost up to $80.00 but they arrive usually within a week and are less likely to be damaged than they would be if sent a less expensive way. The Nicaraguan re-mailing company is called NICA Box and uses a Miami address.

Solicit free transport from airlines or airline personnel who travel to the area. Continental and American have been know to officially transport large quantities of books and other resources to Nicaragua and other Central American countries for volunteer projects. It is always required that at least one person from the organization travel on the same plane as the books or resources and check in with the additional luggage or cargo and sign for the cargo at the destination. Pilots, flight attendants and airport employees that are aware of volunteer projects have sometimes been willing to transport small carry-on’s full of books and library supplies. Nicaraguan and Guetamalan Airport managers have authorized these “good samaritan” deliveries” and usually the airport manager’s office stores the  suitcases until pickup is arranged.

Initiate a “mule” system. If you have supporters who travel to the area of the library, set up a warehouse in a willing volunteer’s garage and purchase second hand small suitcases or wheeling duffle bags to be packed and made ready to travel. Many useful articles, such as library supplies, educational toys, notebooks, back packs, pens and pencils, as well as donated or library discard books can be sent in this way. Use your newsletter to promote use of this system of transporting materials. Volunteers planning to travel for a short time are often willing to dedicate one of their two checked bags to a library project. If you are sending materials to a volunteer who will bringing them to their final destination, make sure the materials are packed  in suitcases or duffle bags, preferably with wheels, that weigh no more than 40 pounds. Send the suitcase to the stateside address of the volunteer transporter well in advance of their scheduled travel date. It is strongly recommended that you provide and identity tag with the volunteer’s name and address for them to put on the outside of the suitcase when they travel.Be sure to put  the library’s contact information inside and a distinctive marking on the outside of the suitcase. Often willing volunteers won’t recall what the suitcase looks like, so using identifying materials such as rainbow colored curling ribbon bows on the suitcase handle work very well.Office Depot has a self service United Parcel Service counter The computer screen will create the address label and the cost includes the packaging tape. Most US destinations cost approximately $1.00 per pound. Before sending packages, make arrangements with the the volunteer to report when the suitcase arrives at their stateside address and again when it is received at the final destination. Sponsors at the final destination customarily thank the volunteer transporter by buying them a meal or providing them with a night accomodation at the final destination. If possible, offer the volunteer the opportunity to participate at the facility or mobile project. Many volunteers become invested in the project after participating in it and learning about how the project benefits the host community.

Research sharing container costs with other volunteer networks. Sister City organizations, church missions and medical teams travel to developing countries and are often written about in their local newspapers. Many groups are willing to share container space, transport books and even donate remaining goods when their project is completed. Networking of this type has provided ongoing support from several groups who travel yearly to Nicaragua. This help is invaluable.

Share with us any other methods or hints that have worked for you!

For more information or to share your ideas, email

Using M-Bag to Ship Directly to Central America is no longer an option offered by the US Postal Service and has caused a great hardshp for many international NGO’s.  JCM

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