Library book sales enter a new era online

Gwen Veazey

Prior to COVID-19, the Friends of the Burke County Public Library earned about $10,000 a year from biannual book sales. One sale involved BRIDGE (Young Offenders Forest Conservation Program) workers transporting boxes of books on city trucks from the Morganton Library to the Collett Street Recreation Center. Dozens of library volunteers helped, setting up tables and working long hours to sort, categorize and display the thousands of books. Shoppers took away their bargain-priced selections over a two-day period, from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon.

The library has not held any book sales at the Rec since September 2019.

As a former board member of the Friends of the Burke County Public Library, I have been involved in these sales for many years. I recently spoke with Kim Luddington of Morganton, a Friends board member who chairs the book sales committee, and asked her what the library was doing to make up for lost revenue.

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Luddington, a retired veterinarian who moved with her husband from Minneapolis to Fayetteville in 2004 and then to Morganton 11 years ago, has volunteered for the public library since 2013. She said in addition to about $200 in income Morganton Library’s Book Nook monthly second-hand book sales. , the library has partnered with ThriftBooks, an online used book seller. (Later on Book Nook.)

“ThriftBooks has a national presence and gets a lot of books from libraries,” Luddington said. “We have to wrap and palletize all of our books for them, then shrink wrap each filled pallet.”

Each finished pallet weighs approximately 1,000 pounds and requires a lot of physical labor and space.

“The history museum generously allowed us to use their annex,” Luddington said. “We keep the books there for a few days because there is no space in the library to store all these books on pallets.”

She has scheduled three deliveries of ThriftBooks in September. The goal is to have a maximum of 10 pallets ready for each pickup.

“There are shipping costs every time they come in,” Luddington said. “We don’t have a dock so we can only do a small truck and they can take 10 pallets.”

How much does ThriftBooks earn? Luddington said, “We get a percentage after their selling and shipping costs. It was great since we couldn’t have book sales. They recycle or donate anything they can’t resell.

The first ThriftBook sale of The Friend brought in over $2,200. She said that so far, proceeds from September shipments have reached $1,200.

One of the issues after the books were sold to the Rec was what to do with the remaining books. No problem with ThriftBooks.

“Their big thing is finding new homes for the books and reselling them or reusing them in a sustainable way,” Luddington said. “They also tell us how much of a difference we’ve made – saving landfill space, thousands of gallons of water, electricity, greenhouse gases and trees.”

She added that none of ThriftBook’s expeditions would be possible without the work of BRIDGE workers.

The books sent to ThriftBooks are those on library shelves that haven’t been checked out in years, as well as many books donated by the community.

Luddington pointed out that community generosity is key to winning funds for the library, especially with the Book Nook, Morganton Library’s second-hand bookstore located to the right after walking through the front doors. Hundreds of books are available there.

“The community has been very generous in donating books and in great condition,” she said. “The Book Nook is all about community donations.”

The library places some of the donated books on its shelves for readers to borrow.

Book Nook’s offerings include young adult and children’s volumes in addition to contemporary fiction and nonfiction.

“We pretty much try to have a bit of everything,” Luddington said. “Volunteers add new books every week.”

Prices are $3 for hardbacks, $2 for trade paperbacks (large format), and $1 for consumer paperbacks.

In addition to Luddington, Barbara Degen, Betty Ann Winters, Carol Ann Bauer, Billy and Judy Wright, and Dan Craig are regular Friends of the Library volunteers who sort and pack books and help with the Book Nook.

“The staff take money and are very helpful,” Luddington said. “Jim Wilson, Library Manager, helps process and move donated items.”

She said Friends were tentatively planning a book sale at the Rec in April 2023.

One important thing people can do to support the public library is to join the Friends of Burke County Public Library.

“I would like people to join Friends not just for book sales, but to support library programs,” she said.

Among other programs, Friends funds the Summer Reading Program, the library’s free access to, and the Wowbrary service to notify readers of new books available.

For more information about library programs or to join Friends, call the library at 828-764-9260.

Gwen Veazey is a member of the Morganton Writers Group.