It was dusty, it was tiresome – but oh, it was so much fun: The semi-annual fall used book sale.
Our small local library – like most of other small local libraries – is primarily funded by city or county dollars and must make do with their allocations.
We are fortunate in our area. We have access to three wonderful county libraries; all staffed with great people. Their book selection compliments all ages and every taste in reading. Our library sits in the middle of a small park making occasional outdoor reading very attractive.
It has a dedicated staff, a good reference section, and is a wonderful place to visit, browse, and select books for your purpose, but there is rarely anything left over for all those little extras and special events to attract readers and would-be readers. Here is where The Friends of the Library come in. They have monthly meetings where plans for improvements and money raising events are discussed
I was fortunate to be part of such an event a few years ago. I wanted to take an active part in the community and I chose the library; why not? I read since I was very young, listened to stories told by my grandparents, and looked through picture books before I mastered reading.
I once met someone who told me he never read – “it puts me to sleep,” he said. Had he said he never managed to learn Latin, I would have understood – but never read? Unthinkable!
I also admit that I love collecting books, and I now have a small library with around 1,500. We once considered moving to a smaller house, but I pointed out that we would have to get rid of most of our books – that stopped our search.
After looking over our collection, we decided to give away some of our books – “except the ones I can’t live without,” I told my husband – he agreed. We are both ferocious readers and occasionally re-read an especially good book, or selected parts of some.
When the used book sale came up, like other loyal library fans, we found books we felt we could part with, brought them to town, and deposited them inside the library a month before the sale was to take place.
The sale began Thursday noon, and ended Saturday afternoon. We both signed up for volunteer work and arrived Wednesday evening – along with more than a dozen other adults and a group of Boy Scouts working on their community badges.
When I first entered the building (a former bank now stripped of all interiors) I was overwhelmed by the sight of boxes everywhere. Some of the staff and other volunteers had transported all donations from the storage building to the place of the sale.
There were boxes and books everywhere. They were on tables, on chairs, and on the floor. There were tons and tons of gently, and a few not so gently used books. There was every possible category. There were books of fiction, non-fiction, cook books, religious books, art books – with or without pictures – and many books for children of all ages.
Our job that Wednesday evening was to sort them into categories. You see when Mr. and Mrs. so and so – just like my husband and I – boxed their offerings, they did not sort them.
So there we were looking at mountains of books.
Before long, an organized soul who was a dedicated reader set up a system. All tables were emptied and a place card put on each to make the sorting and placing easier.
It was, no doubt, the dustiest, job I have ever been involved in. Many of the books were old – and all just gave off dust as they were moved from box to tables.
We took a break in the middle of the evening and enjoyed a soda and homemade cookies brought by a volunteer who had done this before.
We had arrived at 6:30 that evening and went home at 10:30; tired but satisfied we had done a great job.
The volunteers not holding daytime jobs, returned at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday – to do what? To sort, by authors, as many of the fictional works as possible
There was a big bonus in store for all of us that morning. We did not get paid, but we had the opportunity to pick out books we wanted at only half price. This was wonderful but it did have a catch to it. I ended up buying more books than I donated. It was for a good cause, I told myself.
A small group carrying empty canvas bags and assorted boxes were waiting outside before the doors opened Thursday noon. I asked the librarian whom they were – none of them looked familiar.
“They’re Internet used book sellers who pick up bargains here and resell to others on line,” she told me. These people hunt all advertising for used book sales and the Friends of the Library, had, of course, placed ads in area newspapers.
This group was followed by local readers looking for a good buy; many of them were mothers who let a pre-school child pick out books before making their own selection.
We were busy the rest of Thursday and all day Friday. There had been a sign-up sheet of selected time periods and I had signed up for all but Saturday when we would be out of town.
The book sale went well and raised a nice amount of money that will be used for little extras for the library and its many readers.
It was fun and a gratifying experience. I hope to be part of it again.