For the last few years I have volunteered at my local library’s book sale. The sale has a permanent location, in the lower level of the branch library, and because it is shelved almost like a “real” library I find that it is one of the more organized sales I’ve attended.
My duties vary as needed, from calculating the customers’ purchases to tidying up the shelves and helping people find what they are looking for. In both cases I love observing how people act at the sales. You get dealer types with their little handheld devices that they use to scan the books (for what I’m not sure), teachers looking to build up their classroom libraries, and avid readers picking up a favorite author’s backlist titles.
My inner bibliophile kicks in too, and I’m always interested in seeing what types of books people read. I admit to being a bit of a book snob, and when I see people loading up on James Patterson books or those of similar type robo-authors, I do judge them a little bit (in my mind only!), but when someone comes to the checkout with some books that interest me, I immediately want to talk to them and discover why they’ve picked these books (I’ve also been known to hand-sell books at the sale).
I’m not involved with the year-round planning that goes into the thrice-yearly sales, but I’m sure it is no small undertaking. The few hours that I put in can be tiring, especially when I’m reshelving books, but I really do enjoy it.
I just put in my shift at the sale yesterday, and one of the perks of volunteering (well, THE perk) is that you are given $5 credit for books. Yeah, it’s not a lot, but that amount can be stretched when you’re talking used books; and besides, given that it is a charitable cause they don’t even have to do that. My shift involved tidying the shelves and re-shelving books, so I had a lot of opportunity to browse. Here is what I picked up:
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Clumsiest People in Europe or: Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World edited by Todd Pruzan
Citizen Soldiers by Stephen E. Ambrose (Zohar at Man of la Book just mentioned this one in his Veterans’ Day post)
Collected Stories by Saul Bellow
The Twins by Tessa De Loo
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (this is in immaculate condition!)
Total cost to me: Free! (actually, it was $1.75 but one of the other volunteers hadn’t used up all of her credit so she gave it to me). Not bad for a few hours of work 🙂