The Champaign County Library book sale is next weekend. The sale is sponsored and run by the Friends of the Library. I am president of the Friends, so, in my book, I need to make sure that everything goes smoothly for the sale.

I have help from other Friends and from volunteers (lower case friends) who also love books and used book sales.

It is always interesting to see what the specific personality of a sale is going to be. Although the book sale is a combination of library discards and donations, it is the donated books that I feel make the personality.

A few book sales ago (we hold a sale in the spring and in the fall), we had a preponderance of romance paperbacks. They filled one table, were on the floor under that table, filled the counter next to that table… you get the idea.

Next came a sale in which someone divested a significant cookbook collection. The cookbooks filled two tables and so much of the floor under and around those tables, it was difficult to walk. Several of the Friends noticed one of the tables was so encumbered, it bowed. (That table has recovered nicely, thank you.)

Another recent sale brought more science-fiction books than I could have believed were published.

The donations for a book sale literally start the day after a sale ends. (How could that big yellow sign asking for donations before the sale have been missed?) After a few weeks rest, I start going through every book that is donated or discarded. Generally I do this one day a week. Of course, as the sale gets closer and the big yellow sign goes up out front and back, I may allow more time to keep “my” carts empty.

The carts have become a running gag between several of the library employees and myself – especially Alice whose desk is closest to “my” carts.

When donations come to the staff, they are put on one of two purple-painted carts. I know anything on those carts needs to be looked at. Invariably I will get books checked-in, will store them in a back room out of the way of the staff, bring the carts back to wait for more to find out there is no wait. New books have arrived.

This close to the sale, I have threatened to bring in a hose like the one service stations used to have to notify the mechanic that someone needed gas pumped. (Yesterday, I ended up feeling ancient when I had to explain to one young library employee about 1.) the hose “ding, ding”, 2.) a service station did more than offer gas, and 3.) an employee had to pump the gas – no self serve.)

Next week will be a physically tiring week, but emotionally exhilarating because of being able to be with like-minded people – both the volunteers and the book buyers.

A few years ago, I wrote a poem for a contest celebrating libraries. I’ve posted it below:

Counting on the Library

(in appreciation of Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Three Musketeers

Forever Amber

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Moon and Sixpence

The House of Seven Gables

8 Mile

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems and Plays

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

101 Dalmatians

Fahrenheit 451

A Thousand Splendid Suns

2001 A Space Odyssey

A Million Little Pieces