Local donations soar thanks to Netflix star Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’ tips


FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Does it bring you joy? Keep it. If not, let it go have a life with someone who will appreciate it more than you do.

That’s an oversimplified version of the decluttering philosophy of Marie Kondo. The tidying expert and author’s new Netflix show has gone viral and it’s impacts are being felt in the D.C. area.

Libraries in Fairfax County can’t keep any of Kondo’s books on the shelves. In addition to her original title, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing,” there is a comic book type version and another book that’s a do-it-yourself guide with specific tips on how to fold things and where to put them, for example.

“They’re all checked out,” said Jessica Hudson, director of the Fairfax County Public Library system.

Fairfax County has more than 400,000 library card holders. At some branches, dozens of people have Kondo books ‘on-hold‘ so they can be next in line to get a copy.

“Marie Kondo’s book has been our most popular downloadable eBook for probably the last two or three months,” Hudson said. “The Netflix series certainly helped boost it up. It was pretty popular before then.”

Getting people to simplify their lives by giving things away has also been good for book donations to libraries.

“We have absolutely benefited from her book,” Hudson said. “We’ve seen a large amount of donations over time and that means more sales through our ‘Friends of the Libraries’ groups, which means more money coming back to the library.”

Hudson said sales of used books by various ‘friends groups’ results in yearly donations back into the system of between $225,000 and $250,000.

The money complements funding from the county and is used for various upgrades like carpets and furniture and for programs, such as story times, teen and adult book clubs, summer reading and STEM programs.

“Any program that you see in our library is most likely supported by generous funds sponsored by the friends groups,” Hudson said.

Vito Santos, of Falls Church, is a frequent donor and buyer of books at Fairfax County libraries.

“I buy usually books on arts, history, politics and my field – that is economics and finance,” Santos said. “After I read it – I know if I don’t need to keep it, somebody else is going to take advantage of it.”

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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