After 28 years, the volunteers behind the Elm Grove Library's used book sale have the process mastered from A to Z.
Almost every day the Elm Grove Library is open, at least one library user brings in used materials to donate. Shortly behind them comes a volunteer from the Friends of the Elm Grove library to scoop up the goods and file them away in categorized boxes in the basement.
It's a year-round effort that culminates in one weekend of intense bookselling, involving about 90 volunteers and about 20,000 materials.
This year, chair of the book sale Pat Ruttum said she hopes the sale will raise about $20,000, as it has in recent years, to fund new materials for the library. The sale has been an annual event since 1986.
"We take pride in what we do," Ruttum said. "What we do is vital to our library."
Ruttum said the sale has only become more important to the library as new materials become more expensive and come in more forms, like e-books and audiobooks.
"No longer does a library buy just a hardcover book," Ruttum said. "Now you need every format."
On the first night of the event, March 6, the sale will only be open to members of FOEGL. There will likely be upwards of 50 book dealers in line that night, Ruttum said, who will pay a $10 membership fee to the Friends in order to get first dibs. It can be overwhelming, but Ruttum said it helps the group accomplish its goal.
"The sale is all about making money and getting books into people's hands," Ruttum said.
The sale will be open to the public for free March 7-9. Most items are $1 or $2, with collector's items costing more.
"Our goal is to have all the books find new homes," said Friends member and volunteer Janet Wintersberger. "All those dollars add up."
The collector's items include books dating back to the early 1800s, LIFE magazines from the 1950s and some antique furniture donations, such as a dictionary stand believed to be from 1885.
Items that aren't sold get passed along to one of about a dozen nonprofits the Friends group works with. Materials that are outdated or falling apart are recycled. That way, every year, almost all of the materials on sale are fresh.
"If you kept everything, you'd have a terrible sale," Ruttum said. "We like to put out the gold."
Times and Deals
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 7: regular sale
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 8: half-price
Noon to 4 p.m. March 9: $5 per bag of materials
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