Skip to content

COLUMN: A book-accumulation primer

From the Nelson Library’s Anne DeGrace…
Friends of the Library Miriam Williams (left) and Heather Lyon and are in the midst of book-wrestling prior to the fall sale. Photo: Anne DeGrace

True confession: I once owned more than 8,000 books. There were a disproportionate number of Arthur Hailey novels (remember Airport?), but there were some fabulous books, too. To be fair, I was new to this sort of book ownership: I had just opened a second-hand bookstore called Packrat Annie’s, and in my quest for stock a wily second-hand bookseller unloaded three boxes of Hotel and Airport on me at two bits a copy. How could I go wrong?

Packrat Annie’s is still going strong, but I stepped away into the land of libraries decades ago. I still love all places of books: libraries, independent bookstores, second-hand sellers. I try to spread the love around, because they are all important to healthy book accumulation.

And I make sure I drop a few dollars at the Friends of the Nelson Library book sales because the Friends need love, too — the better to share it with the whole community through their support of special programs and furnishings for your public library.

The Friends of the Nelson Library Fall Book Sale happens Friday, Oct. 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Billed as a “mostly fiction sale with a few surprises,” there are bargains all weekend with a bag-o-books for five bucks period from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, where, should you be able to find them, you could potentially walk out with all of Arthur Hailey’s novels for next to nothing. But I’ll bet you can do a whole lot better than that. The sale takes place in the lower level of the library.

When you drop your money at Friends of the Library book sales (did I mention all the fabulous, nearly-new books?) good things happen. Since the Friends began fundraising back when the library was in the Nelson Civic Centre, more than $260,000 has been raised to pay for book cases, chairs, tables, toys, signage, sound systems, kids’ computers, and a cozy reading nook. The Friends have funded Mother Goose programs for wee ones, STEAM programs for bigger ones, teen programs, and more. To say we love the Friends — who bravely wrestle unruly mountains of donated books into submission before each sale — is an understatement.

If you’re a closet book-wrestler with an interest in donating your time to a great group, the Friends of the Library welcomes new members. Contact Miriam at 250-352-9479.

I’m grateful to that bookseller for all those boxes of Airport, which taught me to laugh at my own naivety, and to read reviews. The New York Times described Hailey as “a plodding sort of writer,” adding in a subsequent review that followups to Hotel and Airport might well be Parking Lot and Shopping Centre. Ouch.

But the beauty of the book sale gamble is this: The next book you pick up for that handful of change is the book that could inspire you, make you swoon, teach you something, change your life. Book sales are better than lottery tickets because along with the potential to find that life-altering book, at Friends of the Library book sales you get to support a community institution that benefits everyone.

As for me, I am proud to say I have pared down my personal collection to a mere few bookshelves — thanks in part to my own donations to the Friends over the years, none of which included a single Arthur Hailey novel. But despite my best intentions, I know I won’t be able to resist the Fall Book Sale. Hope to see you there.

Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

Read more