For more than a decade, the Westport Library Summer Book Sale has been a hot event.
For a few days, thousands of book, magazine, CD and vinyl lovers packed a huge tent on Jesup Green. Paying prices that diminished daily, they emerged with armfuls, boxes and (it seemed) tractor-trailers of stuff.
Early bird collectors – who resold what they bought for a profit – jostled with readers of all ages: parents with young children, teenagers, older people who probably already had 15,000 books.
It was a great fundraiser for the library.
It also took a ton of work. Armies of volunteers were needed to pitch the (expensive) tent, monitor the flow and collect the money.
And the “hot” event was literally that. Everyone swelled up. (Jesup Green didn’t look so hot himself, once the tent was taken down.)
COVID has ended the summer book sale. He didn’t come back.
But second-hand books are still popular. And the Library has adapted in several ways.
Westport Book Shop – opposite Jesup Green from the library – has established itself as a top spot for second-hand books. Open every day except Monday, it’s much less hectic (and cooler in summer) than the tent. Its mission to employ people with disabilities adds to its importance.
The bookstore now sells online and via eBay. (This adds a new element: shipping. Books are stored and prepared for shipping, offsite, near the Cottage restaurant.)
There are still “book sales”. They take place twice a year, in the spring and in the fall — inside the library. The next one will take place from November 11 to 14.
Volunteers are always essential. And no one has worked harder, or longer, for Library book sales than Mimi Greenlee.
For more than 20 years, she has helped them grow and evolve. His current role is managing store inventory and sales. She works inside a trailer outside the building in the upper parking lot.
It’s quite an operation.
Donors bring stacks of books. (Including throwing them outside when the doors are closed, which shouldn’t be done.)
Some people carry hundreds of volumes.
Volunteers sort donations into 60 categories. There are big ones (Fiction, Mysteries, History) and smaller ones (Military, Judaic).
The managers decide the most appropriate place for each: the store, or the sales. They also price each volume using online tools.
Not all donations are acceptable.
“People can’t throw away their own books,” says Mimi. “Unfortunately, some of them are moldy, after years in the garage or basement.”
Other books have broken spines or bindings.
“Some people just don’t watch what they give,” adds Mimi. “It often happens when they’re cleaning a parent’s house or moving quickly.”
The recycling bin is handy for those.
Even donations in good condition are not always acceptable. “We don’t take encyclopedias. No one wants it anymore,” says Mimi.
Also useless: magazines (“unless they are very valuable”), VHS tapes, audio tapes and “outdated computer manuals”. Few textbooks succeed.
Mimi wants potential donors to ask, “Would I give this book to my grandmother?”
Because grandmothers – and grandfathers, moms, dads, kids, and everyone else in the area who can read – want second-hand books.
But not the ones they just threw away.
(Volunteers are always needed – for sorting and other help, and during the book sales themselves. Email Mimi Greenlee for details: firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Like the Westport Library, “06880” is dependent on donations. Please click here to support this blog.)