Friends of the Library co-chair Kathy Oakley has long known that her fellow volunteers are a determined and resilient bunch, but the last 18 months have led her to add “adaptable” to the list.
In the year-and-a-half since the coronavirus pandemic landed in Alamance County, the group has run the gamut of ways to protect its volunteers and customers – from cancelling one sale altogether to setting up online reservations and customers-at-a-time limits. But the set-up of the upcoming sale, which begins today and continues through September 19, should appear a little more familiar to shoppers.
Face coverings and social distancing will be required, but the Friends plan to allow 30 to 40 visitors at a time – on a first-come, first-served basis – in its May Memorial basement shopping area. Using numbered hand tags, volunteers will maintain that limited capacity.
Since the group acknowledges that the cap may cause occasional lines, it asks that shoppers be prepared with chairs and water if needed.
“We’re still conscious of our volunteers and customers and the state of the pandemic, so we’re still being cautious,” Oakley told The Alamance News last week. “We have been very adaptive, I think, and worked as a team.”
In the face of not yet having a full return to normalcy, the group has extended a “thank you” of sorts to its members by adding a second members-only shopping day to the beginning of the sale. Today and tomorrow, the sale will only admit members, though memberships can be bought for $10 at the door.
What hasn’t differed much from the Friends’ past sales is the sheer amount of books, with about 70,000 titles shelved or waiting in boxes. Even last week, as the newspaper visited the group as it prepped, 21 boxes of books were hauled in.
Especially large sections this sale are history, science fiction, poetry, religion, large-print books, and children’s books. Still, genres range from the broad topics like cooking, gardening, and classics to specifics like true crime and state-based authors, such as recently-passed humorist Jeanne Swanner Robertson. The group’s selection also includes CD’s, DVD’s, and vinyl records.
Proceeds from each of the group’s sales over the years have been put toward contributions to the county’s libraries, which help fund programs like staff scholarships and craft kits for children and adults.
“One of our goals here is to raise money and give it to the library to fund programs,” Oakley said. “Part of our mission is also to promote literacy in Alamance County.”2