The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 21, 2004


Book sale: bang for the buck at Gleason Library

Relief was palpable as May 8 dawned bright, clear, and perfect for the Friends of Gleason Library used book sale. Cooperative weather allowed the sale to take place out of doors on the library lawn. At 8 a.m. a small team of workers set up tables, loaded them with books and set up signs: Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery, Autographed Books. More workers trickled in and the sale began to take shape. Well before the 10 a.m. opening time, people were lining up as if waiting for a starting gun.

Promptly at ten, people poured in and began to peruse the over 10,000 volumes Carlisle townsfolk had donated to the sale. Tables groaned with books, more books in boxes were stuffed underneath; there were even books on blankets so patrons, especially the smaller ones, could examine their choices in comfort. The new library benches were also good browsing spots. At a dollar for hard covers, 50 cents for soft covers and children's hard covers, 25 cents for children's soft covers, sets for $15, and collectibles priced as marked, people could walk away with huge stacks of books and change for $10 or $20. Also available were Carlisle stationery, library T-shirts, and library tote bags to carry home the loot.

Some of the most rewarding moments were when the youngest patrons approached the cashiers with money in hand and proudly presented their waiting parents with change, or when two little girls came up with their own pocketbooks, and carefully and triumphantly counted out quarters, nickels and dimes for the exact amount for their treasures.

Cashiers and those working to restock the tables also agreed that there was, literally, never a dull moment. For the full four hours of the sale, customers were all over the lawn and lining up steadily at the cashiers' desk. At the same time, the beautiful weather helped to draw people out of their homes: friends greeted friends they hadn't seen for a while and met new ones for the first time. Library Director Angela Reddin stayed all day, working the sale and chatting with townspeople. The atmosphere was cheerful and convivial, as sounds of laughter and conversation drifted across the lawn: the sale truly became a town event.

Although the day couldn't have been more magical, the book sale wasn't just pulled out of an old top hat. It was the work of a few very assiduous people, most tireless of whom were its co-chairs, Penny and Steve Zezima. The library staff sorted through donated books and found some excellent volumes to add to the collection or to replace worn books. Then the Zezimas carted most of the rest to their home, where they spent countless hours in the month before the sale sorting and packing books and stacking the boxes in their garage. On book sale morning, Reddin and Trustee Phil Conti lugged out the books remaining in the library, while the Zezimas, with daughter Sarah and a college friend, and a few more willing folks with station wagons or trucks brought all the rest of the books to the sale site. At the end of the day, Groton's Hands Across the Water, Free Books of Boston, and The Children's Meeting House took away all the leftover books for their charitable organizations, so, as Penny said, "all the books found good homes." Volunteers then quickly removed all remaining traces of the sale.

Next, Friends Treasurer Warren Spence went to work on the cash box, and his report, circulated to the Friends by e-mail on Monday, put the total monies raised for the library at $2933.75. One Friend, apologizing for the fact that she hadn't been able to help at the sale this year, kindly donated $66.25 to bring the total up to an even $3000.

What happens to the money? The Friends use monies from events like this and from their annual appeal to support programs and resources that enhance the library's services: they sponsor museum passes to over a dozen museums in the greater Boston area, the library's summer reading program, story hours, Art at the Gleason, their own Authors Series, the annual community pot luck supper, and special events like the Harry Potter Book Party and murder mystery nights. They purchase display cases and bookstands for the library, provide matching funds for library grants, and have just agreed to provide seed money for the library to develop a web site. All things considered, patrons of the Friends' used book sale really do get the best bang for their bucks.

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito