Library Sales – Find Great Books, Support Local Causes

If you’re looking for budget books, keep tabs on your city libraries’ events. This last month, the Mesa Public Library hosted their semiannual used book sale. As it was only two days – Friday and Saturday – the enthusiasm was palpable online and around the reading rooms.

Children’s books turned out to be the biggest hit. It was hard to tell, with such slim bindings, but they went quickly. At any one time, several families hovered in the area of the picture books picking over the shelves for their favorites at half or less the price they’d go for new in a bookstore. Near the middle of that first day, the more familiar titles were gone, but those eagle-eyed parents still pulled Disney books, Little Goldens, and anything with familiar names as fast as the volunteers could restock.

If you’re aiming to attend a sale like this (a good cause and a win-win all around), come to the fiction section with authors in mind. Some sales organize their ample novel offerings like a real store, by genre. Mine, however, went with generally alphabetized by author. That makes browsing pretty difficult, but if you’re looking to collect up and read all of a completed series or works by a prolific author, come knowing what you’re looking for. A book-by-book search may be just what you need to find more for your shelf.

Slow down when you do get there. Unless you see someone with their arms full of your favorite author’s work, then hurry. But if you’re not sure what they have on offer, take your time. Chat up the other book lovers in the room and even the volunteers. These are your people, and many of them might not get out much. A kind word and a smile can go a long way to making the place more welcoming. You might even get a bit of networking in. I know I swapped a couple cards with some of my fellow shoppers.

This was my haul! I bought all nonfiction this round. I wasn’t prepared to navigate the fiction shelves. All these and a nice bag with the library logo on it for only $9.

When preparing to shop, remember cash is best. Credit or debit cards come with a price to process, so the library may be getting less of your purchase than you intend if you use a card. You also may find yourself lugging a heavy bag to the circulation desk rather than to the convenient volunteer with a cash box closest to you.

Speaking of money, take some time to find out where the proceeds will go. In the case of my recent spree, the money goes straight to the library, funding their community programs and upcoming renovation for a Maker Space. In these times of uncertain funding, buying from fundraisers like these can be the best thing you can do for your public library.

I’m looking forward to the next sale, scheduled for some time in November. I hope to spend more time in the children’s section, pulling the better quality books for purchase and then donation to our local literacy program – 12 Books through United Way. This way money goes to the library, and the books go to a group actively supporting literacy in new readers. If you do plan to donate the books you purchase, check whether the charity you have in mind has a specific wish list. It’d be a shame to donate with good intentions only to have the material be unsuitable to their purposes.

Support your local libraries and find some surprises on those shelves! Happy reading!

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