Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Alamance County Friends of the Library will carry on with its spring book sale, albeit with some pandemic-related modifications.
This time last year, the volunteer organization, which uses proceeds from its semi-annual sales to support the county’s libraries, had just called off its spring sale due to concerns over the then-emerging coronavirus pandemic. Come August, the group put together the first of its modified sales, held outdoors, to clear its massive collection of movies and music.
Moving indoors a month later for the first book sale in a year, the Friends instituted scheduling times and limited visitors to 10, then 15, at a time.
“It was a matter of figuring out how do we do this and keep people safe,” long-time volunteer Laura Wright told The Alamance News last week.
The modifications will continue with this upcoming sale, which kicks off tomorrow for members only – visitors can purchase annual memberships for $10 at the door – and Monday, March 29 for the public. The sale will go through April 12, operating on an every-other-day basis and closing for the Easter holiday.
Shoppers are asked to pre-register for 90-minute slots by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to allowing only 15 visitors at a time, face coverings and social distancing will be required.
Despite the toll that the pandemic has taken on the Friends’ ability to collect donated materials, the shelves in the basement of May Memorial Library, where the sale is held, are as full as in years past. Touring the collection with an Alamance News reporter, Wright explained that all of the group’s non-fiction is new, as is most of its fiction. Other largely-represented genres this year are children’s and young adult’s books, homeschooling, and religion. Also stocked are the sale’s mainstays like classics, history, art, sports, and its special section on southern authors.
With around 1,800 DVD’s and hundreds of CD’s, the Friends have reduced the price for both to a dollar apiece.
In addition to supporting its usual budget, comprised of contributions to county libraries for items like staff scholarships and craft kits for children and adults, the Friends will be putting this sale’s proceeds toward what decades-long volunteer Barbara Roberts termed a “play-aways project.” The play-aways, portable audiobooks that listeners can hook up to headphones, will be rented by the library for visitors to check out.
Acknowledging the circumstances behind this season’s sale, Roberts expressed both gratitude that the event could be held and hope that the sight of bustling crowds on opening day will return in time.
“I think it’s important to return to normalcy in the ways that we can,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to do with this book sale.”