In last week’s paper, we published a letter and a column – the latter by regular columnist Janet Gilmore – about the seemingly sad state of library book sales, both here in Chestnut Hill and “abroad” (Abington Library was the subject of Gilmore’s column).
Library-run used book sales are a staple of both library fundraising efforts and of the bibliophiles and book collectors who enjoy perusing the well-worn boxes and shelves of old hardcovers and quality paperbacks in the hope of finding a bargain.
In the case of Chestnut Hill’s book sale, word was that the library staff was going to get rid of the sale all together – an idea that was justifiably called ‘idiotic’ if it were so.
Turns out, Chestnut Hill’s book sale is going nowhere.
Prather O’Donnell, the recently promoted head librarian at the Chestnut Hill branch – a Chestnut Hill native who regularly used the library as an adolescent – told me this week that the library has absolutely no plans of reducing the book sale. It will continue to both take book donations and offer its large stock of books for sale to the public every Monday from 1 to 5 p.m.
“We really appreciate that this sale has been around for so long,” O’Donnell said. “It’s given us so much in terms of funding.”
The book sale, which is managed not by library staff but by the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library, provides funding for all of O’Donnell’s children’s and adult programming. It pays for Lego clubs, an upcoming Minecraft club, author speaker series, etc. And when the library needs something like a replacement vacuum cleaner or a new faucet in the staff room, it can turn to the book sale funds for quick relief, rather than go through a lengthy request process through the city.
Not only does the library have no plans of stopping the book sale, O’Donnell said the she and the Friends have been discussing the possibility of expanding the sale for Wednesday night sidewalk sales to get the book sale outside and be part of Wednesday night business activities on the Avenue.
We were thinking we could make it a party,” O’Donnell said.
It’s not a bad idea at all. More people should know about the library’s Book Sale and consider patronizing it, through donations or, better yet, by purchasing books.
One issue with donating books, O’Donnell said, and perhaps part of the issue some patrons had with the library, is that the library’s staff cannot accept book donations. Those transactions, she said, must be completed by a Friends of the Library volunteer, in no small part to prevent people from simply dumping water-damaged and otherwise worthless books.
The idea behind donating books should be in no small part that they have value and can therefore earn money for the library.
So be sure to visit the library on Monday afternoons if you have the time. You’ll never know what you’ll find. It’s a good chance to support one of the neighborhood’s most important institutions.