As a young woman and recent arrival to Nelson, I opened a used book store called Packrat Annie’s. I stacked, sorted, assessed and shelved books for the store that Nelson folk loved to buy, read, pass on, trade in, or keep. That was more than 25 years ago, but I still love a good book sale, be it new or used. There’s just something about being surrounded by all those words on pages, the marching spines, the clean, dry smell of paper — heart and soul in a pasteboard skin.
So I’m sympathetic when, each fall, things in the Friends of the Library booksale room reach a fever pitch of stacking, sorting, and assessing donations of books for the annual Friends sale, this year on October 25 and 26 at the Old Church Hall (thanks to Helen Kissinger of Renew Personal Training) on the corner of Kootenay and Victoria.
It can’t be easy: there are stacks and stacks of boxes and, in that small space, a good system borne of experience is essential. Luckily, the Friends have that experience in spades. Since 1995 the Friends have raised more than $130,000 for the library, purchasing kids’ chairs and easy chairs, racks and shelves, computer equipment and a microfilm reader — and books, of course. As current Friends chair Catherine Brochhagen says, “Yes, we do rock, don’t we?”
Rock, indeed. Part of the success of the Friends lies in the fun they have as not only sorters and assessors, but also raffle organizers and silent auction setter-uppers — as movers and shakers.
Bev Robertson has been a Friend of the Library since shortly after she arrived in Nelson more than a dozen years ago — like me, drawn to books and booklovers. She became secretary and has kept that role throughout.
“They are all so friendly and so easy — a good group to work with, and always fun,” says Bev.
Describing their meetings, she says: “Sometimes I think we must disturb people — we usually end up in fits of laughter!”
Sometimes nicknamed the Friendlies, the group both laughs and works hard. Trundling dollies of books down the street to the Old Church Hall isn’t easy, but it’s necessary since the library expanded to fill both its floors. And as booksellers, their years of experience have paid off.
“We know what sells and what doesn’t,” says Bev.
Right now, the Friends are accepting donations of gently used fiction and recent nonfiction, as well as DVDs and CDs in great shape.
Occasionally the Friends have received valuable books, but for every treasure, there are always the nose-turners: books that are mildewed, 20-year-old travel guides, computer manuals from the dawn of eTime. The gentle message here is: donate the kinds of books you’d like to buy yourself! Please don’t bring more than three boxes at a time, and (this one’s from me), please don’t leave books you’d like to give away in our lobby. Call the library if you’re not sure at 250-352-6333.
The Friends can always use help with the sale, set-up, or clean-up. Contact Miriam Williams at 250-352-9479 or Ina Infield at 250-352-3597, and be a friend to the Friends!
Everyone loves a good book sale — the number of folks who come to the Friends’ annual sale are clear evidence of that. This year, when you fill up your bag, think about all that stacking, sorting, assessing, trundling, displaying — and laughing — that happens so you can take that bag-o-books home to your own bookshelf. And give the Friend behind the desk a big smile—because that’s a Friendly thing to do.
Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Her column runs every other Friday.