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Library Book Sale: A Community Emerges

by on December 7, 2012

Recently the library I work for held their annual Library Book Sale, and while I have worked during this event before, I was still surprised by how popular it is.  Let me be clear that I do not think our sale isn’t worthwhile; on the contrary, I always end up spending more money than I allotted for the event before the sale is over. However, it seems as though people come out of the woodwork for the pre-sale dropoffs.

The community begins to rally around our sale weeks before the actual sale date. People come in to drop off donations for us, which gives us material for the sale, and gives them extra space in their homes, as well as the feeling that they aren’t just discarding the books/magazines/etc. I recently convinced an aunt of mine that she should donate all of her back issues of Food & wine: the guide to good taste magazine. She thought it was a great idea and within the next week dropped several issues off, which were snatched up within the first hour of the sale.

Library League Membership
Once the sale is upon us, we know this is a great time to get people to sign up for the Library League (our local library supporters group), which helps people to get involved within our library community (and gives them first hour access to the sale). We probably get more new memberships during that time than the entire rest of the year. Also, it serves as a good benchmark for members to check on or renew their Library League memberships.

Who Attends?
As the sale swings into motion it is exciting to watch the crowds pour in. We see a lot of our regular patrons, but also lots of new faces. Since we are located in a university building, college students come in, often together, between classes to shop. Aside from the shopping, there is a buzz in the air of conversation and camaraderie. Patrons often recognize other people at the sale from their neighborhood or their jobs. In the end, aside from earning money for the library, the book sale acts as an annual social event that is not quite esoteric, but does lean towards being a subcultural event. A community is created of people that enjoy the library and books. Perhaps more than that, they enjoy the municipal collectivism that is created and revisited year after year.