Out of the 93% of teachers spending their own money to purchase school supplies, a whopping one quarter are spending upwards of $1000 per year.*

Some of this is spent on pens and pencils, some of it is spent on maintaining infrastructure (clearly not your job, but someone’s got to keep the walls together) – and 44% of it is spent on library resources and textbooks*.

While we don’t have an overabundance of stationery to send, or any masonry skills whatsoever, what we do have is a team of education specialists who have seen the hard side of a budget and know how to get the best bang for their book bucks.

So if you’re one of the 93%, we’d like to say thank you and give you our team’s top tips on how to find books for your school, library or class on a budget:

Hit the local markets and garage sales

Consider yourself a bit of a treasure hunter? Then you’ll love local markets and garage sales. While finding relevant textbooks will be like finding a needle in a haystack, you’ll be sure to come across some great supplementary works at prices as low as a dollar. Pro-tip – don’t be afraid to haggle or negotiate for a bundle of books!

How to find your local markets

Local Market Guide

Your one-stop-shop for finding out about markets near you. Each market listing gives you details about what’s being sold so you can check that there will be books.

How to find local garage sales


We suggest checking out Gumtree where they have their own section for garage sales. You can filter results to see only ones within a certain radius of where you live – handy!

Your local rag

The town or city newspaper might have listings and dates for garage sales going on in your community, so don’t be too quick to recycle it. Scour online marketplaces If you’re not afraid of doing a little digging or coming across on spoilers on social networks, online marketplaces can hold some surprisingly good (and affordable) finds!

What online marketplaces to search

Facebook Groups

Groups are a great way to find others who are selling or even giving away old books. Search Facebook for “book sale” and you’ll find groups with listings in your area. There are also teacher groups where members are looking to find, swap, sell or donate teaching resources.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook’s new Marketplace feature means you have access to thousands of listings right there in your account. We searched for “children’s books” in the Facebook Marketplace and found multiple sellers offering books free of charge.


One of the original online marketplaces, Ebay has become a place where sellers have become specialised. You should be able to find some merchants who solely stock books on your subjects for a bargain and normally in good nick!


Private sellers looking to offload their old works will normally take to Gumtree. Don’t be afraid to haggle! The usual motivation for people on Gumtree is to offload items and objects that they can’t quite justify throwing away.

Check out library book sales and book fairs

Libraries hold regular sales of books that have been donated but aren’t fit for their shelves.

How to find library book sales

Google it

A simple Google search can help you find out about library book sales. Alternatively, you can follow your local library on Facebook to keep up to date with any upcoming sales.

Ask your local library

It might seem obvious, but you can always go into your local library and ask if they have any upcoming book sales. They might even have some off-market books for sale that you can pick up while you’re there.

How to keep track of book fairs

The best time to find a local book fair is during Book Week! Book Week happens across Australia on the 17th-23rd of August 2019 – update your calendar and keep your eyes open. There are some great opportunities for sales and also networking between you and other teachers looking to trade.

Ask parents for donations

It’s likely that in the homes of your students there are plenty of books going unused. Instead of parents sending old books to a local library, they might rather donate them to your school.

How to ask for donations

Send a letter home with your students

Write a letter for your students to take home asking if their parent shave any unwanted books to go into your own library. To make it simple, we’ve created a letter template that you can fill in with your own details. Advertise in your school newsletter Your school newsletter is a great place to ask for donations — secure yourself a spot and let the readers know that you’re starting your own class library to inspire a love of reading.

Pro-tip – show the parents how important this is through story. Let them see the power of books through your words.

Need help asking? Download our donation appeal letter template!

Donation Appeal Letter Template

Go digital

The digital library is the future, and it’s easy to see why:

  • It saves space
  • Students can access the books from anywhere
  • It’s an environmentally friendly alternative
  • It’s more affordable, and the variety of texts is growing exponentially

How to go digital

Online learning platforms can provide you with the perfect platform for an online library.  A Reading Eggs student subscription, for example, gives students access to over 2500 high-quality eBooks. That’s over $12500 worth of books for students to explore.

How’s that for a bargain?


*Australian Education Union

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