Book Sales At Local Libraries Can Be Charming

Some happy book lovers Inside the tent of books for sale at the annual summer Fluvanna Free Library Book Sale. Photo by Sandy Robison

One of the joys of Upstate New York is our glorious summers, and one of the joys of western New York is our sense of community. We celebrate our schools and our children’s accomplishments, we encourage our government to beautify our area and keep it environmentally sound. We love our garage sales and our free concerts in the park. And a local book sale is one of the glorious things to do on a summer day in Chautauqua County. It’s especially fun to go to a book sale at one of many small libraries in the Chautauqua County Library System, some of them quaint and charming in their own right as buildings of another century. Each is tended by friendly and knowledgeable staff, such as Library Director Lynn Grundstrom and her crew at the Fluvanna Free Library.

Last week, from Friday the 13 th through Sunday, the Fluvanna Free Library was closed during regular library hours and functions but open for a book sale, a baked goods sale and a grilled hotdog lunch. Out front on the long, green lawn stood a white tent that beckoned like a small circus. The tent is donated every year for the book sale by Jamestown Awning Company.

Inside the tent stood tables and tables of books — fiction, nonfiction, memoir and biography, hard covers ($1 each) and paperbacks (4 for a $1), cookbooks, children’s books, travel books with alluring covers.

Book lovers hovered over tables, picking up tomes small and large, lost in the world of thought books offer. The patrons whispered to each other, tete a tete. They smiled at others. It was a community of book lovers.

I spent a good two hours over two days scouring the tables and came away with half a dozen prizes — a Kurt Vonnegut I did not recognize, and an Anne Tyler I had not read. I found a book rich with flowers and gardens for my illumination and another rich with places to see if only in my imagination on the glossy pages of this book. I selected four children’s picture books to read to my 5-year-old granddaughter Cassidy, who loves to hear at least one book before bedtime each night.

A board member tends the bakesale. Photo by Sandy Robison

Inside I picked up some desserts for lunch too — two pieces of yellow cake with chocolate frosting, a bag of chocolate chip cookies. Then I took my treasures home feeling like a child with birthday gifts. I knew I would enjoy those books soon, with my sunglasses on and my feet up. Today I am doing just that, stretched in the sunshine on my back deck with books on my lap. The air is delicious. It is a day meant for gods. And I am adrift in a world of books, one of my favorite places to be.

This year’s three-day book sale at the Fluvanna Free Library was a great success. Director Grundstrom related, “It was a very good sale with great turnout. We had amazing amount of baked goods sold. Board members Barb Swanson and Kathy Carlson do most of the planning for the book sale. The book sale is a Board and volunteer event. They do a great job with it.”

According to Library Assistant Anne French, donations for this and all book sales come from two sources: discarded books that have not been chosen by patrons for five years or longer and donated books from library patrons who drop them off for weeks prior to the book sale. Lynn said books were still being dropped off during the sale. “In New York, libraries are allowed only two sales per year. If we have more, we must pay the state a sales tax.” Fluvanna’s second sale of 2018 will be the Holiday Bazaar, Nov. 10, at the Fire Hall. It will be combined with a craft sale too.”

Both Ann and Lynn mentioned their gratitude to those who made donations as well as those who bought books. “We wouldn’t have a book sale without our generous patrons who donate both baked goods and books,” Ann told me. Lynn added, “Book sales are immensely important to libraries because we are supported by the public. People probably don’t understand how much we appreciate their support.”

The Fluvanna Free Library opens its doors daily except for Sundays to the community at large. Someone always calls out hello when you open the front door. Many volunteers staff the library, including the always smiling Bev McGraw who tends the plants with her special gift for nurturing all living things. On any given day, library patrons will find the chairs and tables busy with activity, often peopled by those from the nearby Resource Center and the people who support them, as well as patrons from the neighboring area. For them all, this small but wonderful library is part of their treasured daily life.

Some patrons bring their small children every Tuesday morning 11-noon for the Children’s Story Hour. Everywhere, people are busy with puzzles and games, coloring and books. Some use the six computers up front to listen to music, to type, to research. Others meander through the aisles and ponder the bookshelves.

Books educate us and bring us joy. They teach us to understand others, others different from who we are as well as others who are similar. The statistics regarding reading and literacy in America are staggering: According to the website,

¯ One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.

¯ 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.

¯ 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

¯ 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

¯ 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

Such facts show us just how deeply important libraries are in our lives today.

The eight board members of the Fluvanna Free Library are Mike Erlandson, president, Marcia Rybicki, treasurer, Dennis Bechmann, secretary, Lynn Harris, Sue Erlandson, Kathy Carlson, and Barb Swanson. One member, Sharon Green, left the board as of July 9.

Book sales generate much needed funds for libraries like this one. They enrich the lives of local residents and patrons. They encourage a celebration of neighborhood and bring together those who love reading. Sometimes books repeat themselves and keep coming back to the sale where they find new homes again, Lynn said. “I love the fact that we can give so many great books to go to new homes to be loved by new people.”

Find the Fluvanna Free Public Library at 3532 Fluvanna Avenue Extension near the Fluvanna Elementary School where it has been a neighborhood staple since 1914.