The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc., like all great ideas, began in a bar. It was started by some teachers looking to drown their troubles and a bibliophile bartender. The teachers needed books for their classrooms and the bartender couldn’t pass up cheap classics. The word spread and folks started bringing books they no longer wanted to the bar and other people came looking.
On 9-9-1999 the IRS proclaimed The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc. a 501(c) nonprofit, making all donations tax-deductible. In November, Russell Wattenberg quit his job at the bar to do “The Book Thing” full time. In April of 2000 we rented the basement of 2645 North Charles Street as our first dedicated location. It was 950 square feet with no bathroom, limited electricity, no parking, no handicap accessibility, no heat, no air conditioning, and no street visibility, but it was home. And we opened our door to the general public every Saturday and Sunday 9-6. In the fall of 2005 the building was sold and the rent began a steady climb upwards. The decision was made to find a permanent home.
The task was made especially difficult given our bank’s response to our mortgage application - peals of laughter. We’d found a suitable building and all we needed to do was find someone to loan us $210,000 and raise $60,000 for the down payment and closing costs in 60 days. There was a will and we found a way! Once the financial hurdles were cleared came the logistics of building bookcases and moving the books. We closed the Charles Street location April 1st and reopened at 3001 Vineyard Lane April 30th - 7000 square feet of new home with heating, handicap accessibility and parking.
Our hours are 9 am to 6 pm Saturdays and Sundays - at all other times, donations can be deposited into the waterproof bins just outside the garage door. When we are open, please give your donations to the volunteers at the gate.
Our address (see map below):
The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc.
3001 Vineyard Lane
Baltimore, MD 21218
By Public Transportation
- Board Baltimore MTA Bus Route 8
- Get off at 30th Street and walk North to Vineyard Lane.
- Look before you walk: MTA bus route map
From the South (Washington, D.C.)
- Take I - 95 North
- Merge to I - 395 North (exit 53) to M.L.King Blvd / Downtown
- Stay right onto M.L.King Blvd
- Slight left at N Howard Street
- Right at 28th Street
- Left at Greenmount Avenue - MD Rt. 45
- After you pass 30th Street, in half a block, Vineyard Lane is on your left.
- When you turn into Vineyard Lane, you will quickly see our building on your left. You are at The Book Thing of Baltimore.
From the North (via route. 83)
- Take I-83 South toward Baltimore / Downtown
- Take the 28th Street exit (exit 7), follow signs to 28th Street
- From 28th street, turn left at Greenmount Avenue - MD Rt. 45
- After you pass 30th Street, watch for Vineyard Lane on your left. When you turn into Vineyard Lane, you will quickly see our building on your left. You are at The Book Thing of Baltimore.
From Towson / North Baltimore
- Take York Road - MD Rt. 45 South - towards downtown.
- At 33rd Street York Road turns into Greenmount Avenue.
- After you pass E 31st Street, take the next right into the one-way Vineyard Lane. You will quickly see our building on your left. You are at The Book Thing of Baltimore.
...if you get lost, call us at (410) 662 5631 -we'll guide you in.
- Are the books really free?
- Absolutely free?
- What's the catch?
- All the books have been stamped "not for resale" and are not to be resold. It means what it says. Please honor this request.
- Is there a limit to how many books I can take?
- You can only take 150,000 per day, per person.
- When are you open?
- We are open EVERY (52) Saturday and Sunday 9am - 6pm, including holidays and blizzards. There are drop-off bins by the entrance for after-hours donations.
- Where do you get all of your books?
- We get them from businesses, organizations, and people like you who no longer have any need for them.
- How can I help?
- Volunteer and check out our wish list.
- Can I give you books?
- We love presents... Donations are always welcome. You can bring books and magazines when you come to browse, or drop them off after-hours in the bins. We accept books and magazines regardless of age or subject matter.
- Are donations tax-deductible?
- All donations are tax-deductible, and we can provide receipts for the number of books donated. To get a receipt, make your donation during our operating hours 9 am - 6 pm Saturday and Sunday, or call before you come to make sure someone is available to give you a receipt.
- Can I ship you books?
- We love gifts in the mail, too... You can ship books to
The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc.
3001 Vineyard Lane
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
- Do you sell books?
- We sell less than 1% of the books we receive. All proceeds from the sales are used to cover overhead and expenses.
- Do you have __________ by __________ from the year _________?
- We move such a large volume of books that it is difficult for us to keep track of what we have! Your best bet is to come down and look for yourself. Our volunteers can point you in the right direction. Besides, the search is half the fun - who knows what else you might find.
- ...And the books are free?
Copyright 2014 - The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc.
The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc. can always use a few good volunteers.
We welcome volunteers during our regular hours - 9 am till 6 pm Saturdays and Sundays. Wednesday is our special volunteer day. Come down anytime between 3pm and 7pm on Wednesday and stay till you leave. Please call ahead if you are under 12 years of age, or if you are coming in a group of 2 or more. There is no training required. All you need to do is show up. Literacy, strength and coordination are helpful, but not required.
Give to us, not Uncle Sam - all donations are tax deductible!
- Copy paper (any color)
- Cans of soda or bottled water
- Children's books
- Gift cards for Home Depot, Staples, gas stations, etc.
- Tote Bags