Monday, October 6, 2008

Why I Love the Library Book Sale

The last weekend in September was the annual library book sale. More than books, of course - magazines, records, videotapes, sewing patterns - anything surplus to the library's needs. Some of the items for sale have been donated, but most are old library stock, being cleared out to make room for new acquisitions. Before the library started having this sale, in the early 1980s, surplus materials were just taken to the landfill - hard to believe when I see how popular this event has become.

Having a couple of voracious readers in the family, we usually make at least one, and often more, trips to the sale. We pick up history books, biographies, how-to books, mysteries, science fiction, old magazines, music books, and the occasional collectible (a few years back, Andrea found a first edition Anne's House of Dreams - one of the Anne of Green Gables books that was first published in 1913). Rarely are we looking for anything specific, but there's always something worth picking up.

Not only does the sale save landfill space while making room in the library for more current materials, it's an opportunity for people to donate directly to the library, and it's amazing how generous people are. Since we moved from a fixed price per item to a donation basis a few years ago, revenues from the sale have increased. The people who come to the book sale obviously put a high value on what the library means to the community, and welcome the chance to show their support. It also brings people into the library that might not have been there before, to see the wide range of services that are offered.

Putting the sale together takes a great deal of work by both library staff and volunteers - books have to be sorted, set out on tables, shelves, and auditorium seats; magazines are sorted, bundled, and stacked on the stage. That's a lot of carrying, unpacking, and stacking. And through the two days of the sale, more books are unpacked and set out. Volunteers take donations, bag up purchases, or offer boxes for people to put their discoveries into.

The sale is full of cheerful people - purchasers, staff, and volunteers, all of whom love books. At the end of it all, my family, and many others, have new books to read, while looking forward to next year's sale, which will provide more opportunities for discovery.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

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