Friends of the Library Sack of Books sale set for March 11-12

Friends of the Library volunteer Joe Watt stacks tables for the Sack of Books Sale, set for March 11-12 at the R.C. Miller Memorial Library. Photo by Andy Coughlan

For a bibliophile, there is no more exciting sight than a room chock to the brim with books. It’s one thing to be in a bookstore, but imagine tables strewn with random titles, allowing chance to let the right book — or books — find us. And for just a few pennies at that.

The Beaumont Friends of the Library will host a “Sack of Books Sale” at the R.C. Miller Memorial Library on Dowlen Road, March 12, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a member preview March 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. Memberships start at $10 and are available at the door.

Just a few days after Beaumont Friends of the Library’s last book sale in 2019, Tropical Storm Imelda flooded the library downtown, causing damage to the basement. Then COVID-19 put events on hold. But the Friends of the Library never stopped taking donations, said President Elaine Wikstrom. So, the inventory has continued to build to a point where a book sale is necessary.

The space is significantly smaller than the downtown library’s basement, so Wikstrom said they decided to change up the format. In the past, the books were all 10 cents and patrons could grab a box, fill it up, take it to a storage area, grab another box and count up at the end. This time, patrons will buy a paper bag for $2 and whatever they can fit in is what they get.

“I had done some research on (other libraries’) websites to see how they handled their service and that’s how we got the bags,” Wikstrom said. “People are used to the free counting table (but) there’s no room for them. That’s when we started trying to figure out what else we could do, because if we can’t count them, how can we charge them?”

The bags are typical grocery story paper bags and were donated by HEB.

Friends of the Library secretary Laura Darchuk loads tables for the Sack of Books Sale, set for March 11-12 at the R.C. Miller Memorial Library. Photo by Andy Coughlan

Friends of the Library secretary Laura Darchuk moved to Beaumont in 2016 from Annapolis, Maryland and attended her first book sale in 2018. She’s been a member ever since.

“It’s funny, I actually was never a reader growing up — I resented having to read books in school,” she said. “I just happen to after I finished college. It was during a blizzard. I was at home, picked up a book started reading and just fell in love. And ever since I am constantly at the library, the bookstores or downloading Kindle.”

Darchuk said she doesn’t know how many books will be in the sale, but more than two weeks out they are unpacking a lot of boxes.

“There’s 30 books per box and they’re bringing us 10 boxes a day,” she said. “We’ve just been sitting on them, and we want to be able to get them out to the public.

“We do a whole variety. We’ve got fiction, we’ve got nonfiction, we’ve got children’s, we’ve got art books, travel books, how-to books, cookbooks — we’ve got something for everybody.”

Part of the fun of the book sale is rummaging through the tables and discovering hidden gems. Darchuk said she left her first sale with 85 books.

“(We say) don’t judge a book by its cover, but that really was what was getting me at that point,” she said. “And because you’re getting them for less than a dollar, (you) find a bunch diamonds in the rough. My books that I’ve gotten from these sales, I will read them, I will pass them on to family and friends. I have several books that my sister has taken to her to her job, and they’ve just been passed around the entire plant, because people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so good. I wouldn’t have thought to buy it.’”

Friends of the Library president Elaine Wikstrom loads tables for the Sack of Books Sale, set for March 11-12 at the R.C. Miller Memorial Library. Photo by Andy Coughlan

The books are separated into fiction and non-fiction, but apart from that there is no order to the tables.

“Nothing’s in alphabetical order,thebooksarenottogether,” Darchuk said. “You could go in and find a book on grilling next to trips to Rome. You’re going to get lost in this world. Just take your time and just see what you can discover.”

Darchuk said the limited space for this sale means becoming part of Friends of the Library and being able to attend the members preview is important.

“You’re going to find that that treasure that might not be here if you wait until Saturday,” she said.

The Friends of the Library help fund outreach programs throughout the year and pay for activities that are not in the budget, Wikstrom said. Despite having thousands of books for sale, most of the money comes from memberships.

“If you think about it, they’re a dime a book or $2 a bag — it’s not going to get you too far,” she said.

Membership forms are available at any Beaumont library and will also be available at the door.

This story originally ran in the Feb. 24, 2022 Art of Living section of The Beaumont Enterprise.

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