Oak Park Library Book Sale This Weekend

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By Helen Kossler

Reading Between the Lines

It’s here again—the Oak Park Library Book Sale sponsored by the Friends of the Library. And once again they have a staggering number of volumes available for sale. Tables and tables of books from the arcane to ubiquitous.  It’s always interesting to peruse the fiction tables because last year’s New York Times best sellers will be available in multiple copies for those of us who can wait a year or two.

There are non fiction books on a wide and sometimes bizarre range of topics. One year I found a book about the problems of brushing your teeth by a dentist. His theory was that all that brushing wore down your teeth and caused cavities. I can’t remember what he thought you should do instead. And don’t forget the music, DVDs and other media that are available too.

I spoke on Saturday to Steve Kirshenbaum, President of the Friends of the Library. He said that this year about 100 volunteers came either in the afternoon or evening to sort books.  I volunteered a few years ago and it’s fun but dusty work. There’s nothing like spending an evening around book lovers become distracted when they happen upon an unusual book or one that especially appeals to them. At any point in the evening you could look around the room and see industrious sorters and sprinkled among them, some slackers leafing through a book, oblivious to everyone around them.

The book sale is the major fundraiser for the Friends and they donate most of the $30,000 to $40,000 raised to the library for programming that might now happen any other way. Steve rattled off several projects—the film series, Writers at Wright, summer reading programs, the School’s Out programs for school holidays and a Trivia Contest.  I said that surely $40,000 wasn’t enough to provide for all those special programs but Steve replied, “The library staff are efficient and run good programs.”

Friday night the sale opens at 6 PM and there is an entry fee of $5.  Nevertheless there’s always a line of eager people snaking down the street waiting to get in. These are serious book buyers. They have wagons, carts, and backpacks to take home their treasures. And when the door opens, the crowd becomes quiet and scurries into the cafeteria to scout out their favorites. Friday night you will also see book dealers with wheeled dollies stacking books at an amazing rate.

Saturday is a kindler, gentler day. The sale is open from 9 to 5. There’s no fee and except for a buzz in the morning, people are less intense and more into browsing and enjoying the experience of being surrounded by books. 

Books cost somewhere between fifty cents to two dollars, except for collectibles which are showcased on separate tables at the front of the room. The lure of getting a box of books for twenty bucks is impossible for me to resist but at least this year I actually donated a box to the sale, so there will be some room on the shelves for the new titles.

Sunday at noon, non-profits and teachers can come to the cafeteria to pick out books for free. You need an ID showing that you work at a non-profit or are a teacher for entry. Books that are still left are sold to a dealer.

So grab a satchel, your kids and head on over the cafeteria at the high school. And happy reading.

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