Community members browsed a collection of more than 500 boxes of books of all genres donated this weekend during the Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library’s ‘Big Book Sale’ – its first since the pandemic began of COVID-19.
First held in 1971, the book sale has been an important source of funding for the Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and raising funds for CHPL.
Karen Curtin, president of the organization, said the big book sale typically generates around $20,000.
These funds are important because CHPL can use them for a wide variety of things, said Natalie Ammarell, inventory manager for Friends’ online bookstore.
“The most important thing is that the library receives support, financial support, that it can use more freely than its city budget,” she said.
Curtin said proceeds from book sales will be used for many projects, including additional copies of popular books and additional parking spaces at CHPL.
Funds from past book sales were used to pay for the Circulator, a truck that acts as a mobile library and travels to different locations in Chapel Hill, Ammarell said.
Marjory Moe, chair of book sales for Friends, said the organization would not be able to successfully run events like the Big Book Sale without its volunteers.
“Friends exist because we have willing volunteers,” Moe said. “We couldn’t do everything we do without the number of volunteers who come to help us set things up, help us volunteer at the sales themselves, help us reduce sales, work with the gifts coming in.”
All of the books available for Friends sales are donated by members of the community, Curtin said. She added that the organization receives more than 100,000 books each year, which are then resold to raise funds for the library.
Moe described this system as an example of a circular economy, as community members buy donated books and return them when they are no longer needed.
In this process, the books are “recycled” for purchase at other book sales, she said.
“We have this wonderful collection, this wonderful knowledge that continues to flow through the community,” Moe said. “There are several people here, especially that I know in the children’s room, and they buy these books, and I also see them coming back in donations because their children are beyond this grade level and now they are moving on. .
The CHPL closed its physical building to the public on March 13, 2020 due to the pandemic. However, it continued to provide contactless services to community members.
Meanwhile, Friends has seen an increase in book donations, Moe said.
“A lot of people gave us a lot of books during the pandemic,” she said. “People were cleaning cupboards and shelves because they were home all the time.”
Because they were receiving more books, Ammarell said, Friends became more demanding about the types of books they received and sold. She said they only accept “beautiful, fresh books.”
During the big book sale on Saturday, customers were eager to browse the variety of books.
Orange County resident Jess Shaver attended the book sale with her two children and said she was very impressed.
“There are a lot of children’s books that the kids loved flipping through and picking out,” she said.
As well as selling books, Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library donates many of its books to other non-profits in the area, such as Durham-based Book Harvest, which aims to increase accessibility children’s books.
“If there’s a way for us to get some of these books donated to other organizations that we know benefit the general public, we’ll do it,” Moe said. “The public library has a great influence on the community.
Community members can contribute to efforts to support CHPL by making donations or becoming members of the Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library. More information can be found at his website.
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