At about 3 p.m. on March 1, a book dealer will walk down to the Community Room, below the Elm Grove Library, set down his bag to mark his place as first in line and wait the three hours until the Friends of the Elm Grove Library book sale begins.
By the time the doors open, he will be joined by another 40 eager shoppers.
At least that is what has happened the last few years, said Pat Ruttum, who is organizing the sale with fellow Friends members Kathy Tusing, Kathy Baptie and Karen Dahlman.
The book dealers realize the member preview can be a very big perk, Ruttum said.
For $10 per person, anyone can buy a Friends membership, which will get them into the sale earlier than the general public. Last year, 28 people took advantage of the deal to have first choice at the wide selection of books, CDs, videos, DVDs and more.
What got started as a small fundraiser for the library has grown to one of the largest book sales in southeastern Wisconsin, drawing a large number of donated materials and attracting hundreds of bargain shoppers.
Wide variety of items
"People in Elm Grove really do read a lot and a wide variety," said Barbara Schaefer, a Friends member who has volunteered at the sale with husband, John, for many years.
While religion, history, adult fiction and children's books rank as the most popular items each year, the sale offers something for everyone, Tusing said. One room features shelves to the ceiling lined with hardcover fiction titles by authors such as John Grisham, Stephen King and Jonathan Kellerman.
In the next room, tables and bookcases are dedicated to nonfiction categories from art and antiques to sports and travel. The hallway is filled with audio books, magazines, videos and other nonbook materials. The final room features children's and young adult titles and a huge assortment of paperback adult fiction.
Selection a mystery until sale
Organizers never really know what they're going to have to sell until about a week before the sale opens. They take donations year-round, but they remain in boxes until the primary election is over and they can begin setting up. In addition, many donations come in the days leading up to the sale.
For instance, last year a man arrived with 50 boxes of romance paperbacks. In another case, a donor pulled up with a van and a trailer to unload about 80 boxes of magazines each one the first issue of a different title. Some of those pristine magazines were Midwest Living, Railroading and Toy and Train.
Every year, organizers try to feature a few different items such as the large selection of audio books from an area business that closed and numerous boxes of vinyl records that shoppers will find this time. The library also weeded out some of its story time puppets such as the Grinch, which will be available for purchase.
Deals get better
People are drawn in by the large assortment and low prices, organizers said. Paperbacks sell for 50 cents, hardcover books for $1.50 and special items start at $2. On Saturday, March 3, a majority of the items will be sold at half price and on Sunday, March 4, people can fill a bag with books for $4.
At these prices, teachers, daycare workers and parents typically buy up all the children's books.
For $4 a bag, it is very affordable to load up on children's books, Tusing said.
Some of the more rare and collectible books will be sold on a separate table or through the book auction to garner a higher price. Elm Grove resident Donald Mundt, a book collector, donated a two-volume set of "The Field Guide Art of Roger Tory Peterson." The covers are leather with silk-lined papers and they are printed by The Easton Press, a well known publisher, Ruttum said.
"We know the people who come to this sale will have fun bidding on this item," she said.
For the kids, Friends will auction a signed copy of the last book in the popular Lemony Snicket book series.
Other auction highlights include a hardcover book of "The Quilts of Gees Bend," a collection that was exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Museum a few years ago. The U.S. Postal Service recently released a stamp set featuring a quilt, and the set will be included with the book.
At the end of the sale, most of the items will be gone. But the remaining books will be donated to prisons, church rummage sales, senior centers and literacy councils.
"We find good homes for everything," Tusing said.
Contact reporter Stefanie Scott at (262) 317-8565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY THE NUMBERS
years of the Friends of the Elm Grove Library book sale
books in the sale collection
Friends members volunteer to organize and staff the sale
people are Friends members
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Friends of the Elm Grove Library
WHAT: Holding a used book sale
WHERE: Elm Grove Public Library, lower level, 13600 Juneau Blvd.
WHEN: Members-only preview 6 to 9 p.m. March 1; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, March 2; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 4.
CONTACT: (262) 782-6717
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