SANDRA CAREY CODY ON: A BOOK’S JOURNEY
The Friends of the Library Book Sale has consumed most of my waking hours for the past several weeks. We started with boxes of donated books–over 400–and that doesn’t count the numerous plastic bags filled to bursting. It was a period of hard work, made light by many hands and a time of fellowship with scores of people who truly love books–in short, a good time and well worth the effort.
The sale was a triumph on several fronts. First and most obvious, it was an economic success, one that couldn’t have come at a better time. Severe budget cuts have forced curtailment of library services at a time when the public’s need is greatest. The money raised by the book sale won’t be enough to bridge the gap, but it will make a difference.
Perhaps as important is the transfer of books from the shelves of someone who can no longer use them into the hands someone who can. Unpacking the boxes, it was impossible not to speculate on where the books had been and where they might go next. As volunteers sorted through donated items, we frequently found ourselves sidetracked, lured into spending a few minutes reading (and sometimes sharing) a much loved passage. We teased each other at the number of volumes on the teetering stacks each of us put aside to purchase and joked that we were our own best customers.
Friday night was member preview night. Savvy dealers came armed with hand-held scanners and stocked up for the months ahead. One gentleman told me he is semi-retired and depends on his on-line bookstore to pay his health insurance–a heart-warming testament to the importance of what we had worked so hard to accomplish. Equally heart-warming was watching families shop together, sharing their delight in special favorites. It was fascinating and sometimes surprising to note the choices people made and to imagine them losing themselves in the worlds within the covers of those choices.
A lot of books disappeared, but having started with an embarrassment of riches, many were left. People asked what happened to the leftovers. I was proud to answer that they would not end up in a dumpster. At the sale’s end, we invited non-profit organizations to select books. A representative from A Woman’s Place (a shelter for abused women) chose books to sell in their thrift shop. A Temple University student filled boxes for the Tree House Project, which provides books to inner-city children who would otherwise have none. One of our board members looked for reading material for book-poor children in the school from which she recently retired. A veteran selected books to replenish the supply of a library run by the USO. There, troops about to be deployed can check out books and, if they are not able to finish them before they leave, keep them. Representatives from nursing homes looked for books their residents might enjoy. Purple Heart collected numerous boxes to sell in their shop.
As I watched the books leave the library, I found myself wondering where a particular book was going and into whose hands it would next be placed. Some, I know, will make their appearance at next year’s book sale–and begin the journey anew.