The 52nd Annual Friends of the Library Book Sale was held November 6-9, 2014 at the Extraco Events Center, formerly known as the Heart of Texas Fairgrounds.  From watching the crowd receive “Free Book” coupons in line early Thursday morning until the final farewell to the public at Sunday evening’s “Moonlight Madness” there were many different kinds of nice surprises for the almost 5,000 attendees during the long weekend at the Extraco Center’s adjoining General Exhibits and Creative Arts buildings.

Friends of the Waco-McLennan County Library 52nd Annual Book Sale

Members of the Friends of the Waco McLennan County Library received extra benefits this year:  in addition to their usual waiver of Thursday’s $5 admission fee, the Friends Members were given free admission to Sunday night’s Moonlight Madness.  The general public is charged $10.00 for the privilege of carrying away all the books one can manage on Sunday evening’s event.  Sunday afternoon right before closing time local charities were invited to take books free of charge for their organizations.  Several took advantage of this largesse.

Thursday’s attendance shattered previous records, this year there were 941 people buying books on opening day.  The cheaper than “reasonable” fee of $5 per person on the first day probably contributed over $4,500 to the sale’s bottom line, although members of the Friends did get free admission.

The children’s sections arranged based on age-appropriateness and priced between fifty cents and a dollar-and-a-half each are so much fun to observe.  The younger children trying to keep their choices as narrow as their parents limit, ‘tweens finding just the right volumes of whatever the hottest series.

Mass market paperback novels arranged alphabetically by author, with some sections separated out for science fiction, westerns, mysteries come next in the sale’s first building.  At one dollar per book in the mass-market section, it seems impossible to walk away empty-handed!

The section titled “Pot Pourri” is always so much fun.  These items are non-books that have been donated to the Friends Book Sale, and they are widely varied so much I can not even start to describe what all one may find there.  This past year I know I saw office supplies such as a bulletin board, organizational tools such as stands in which to arrange CDs, wonderful puzzles and board games (those always get sold so quickly), and countless other items, priced to sell!

The Collector’s Corner, not near as daunting as its name, sells “Like New” novels (published this year, last year, and the year before) for $4.00 each.  Also in the Collector’s Corner one can find beautiful Art Books and Coffee Table Books, huge sections of history divided World History, U.S. History, Texana, cookbooks galore!  This year the Friends had been fortunate to receive as donation a huge collection of books from a magician, so we offered a couple of tables full of books and titled the section, “MAGIC!”  Most books in the Collector’s Corner are around $3 apiece.

For those shoppers seeking even better bargains, the second room at the Extraco Center was filled with hardback books and trade paperbacks selling for $1.50 each.  The novels were arranged alphabetically by author and the fiction organized into so many categories as to require giant maps of the event posted on load-bearing columns all around the room.  The 2014 sale also offered music CDs, DVDs, and a new “old” trend – Vinyl Records.

Of course, as has been the pattern in the last several years, by Sunday the prices in the Collector’s Corner are cut in half and the items throughout the rest of the sale can be purchased by the bag, a bagful of books only $10.00 between noon and 6pm.  The first 1,000 sale attendees on Sunday received a free recyclable green bag, courtesy of H. E. B.

Although I’ve personally attended this sale many times over the last several years, and every year I try to limit my personal book-hoarding, it is so difficult not to buy because it’s close to Christmas and there are many lovely books that make great gifts, and the bargains are so incredible, plus how can I prevent myself from contributing to such a great organization as the Friends of the Library?!  After all, the proceeds go directly to helping the Library pay for things that the City budget does not allow.  In 2014, for example, the Friends gave $35,000 to the Library to grow its collection, and that does not even include the money given for children’s programs, marketing, staff development, and various other projects.

The Book Sale’s careful arrangement of books does not happen overnight, however.  Throughout the year numerous volunteers contribute hundreds or thousands of hours sorting the books into categories, cleaning them, pricing them, boxing them for transport to the Extraco Center in November.  In fact, if you would like to volunteer any of your time to help this fabulous group, please contact Paige Turner at (254)750-8419.

The 53rd Annual Book Sale will take place November 5-8, 2015, again at Extraco Center.  Before that, though, be sure and mark your calendar for the 5th Annual Mini Book Sale June 5-6, 2015 at the West Waco Library.  Although the Mini Book Sale is only a fraction the size of the November Book Sale, it specializes in summer reading materials such as children’s books and novels for adults.

Please remember that the Friends of the Library accept your donations of gently used books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, board games, puzzles throughout the year at any of the four branches of the Waco McLennan County Libraries.  This year we especially welcome donations at Central Library on Austin Avenue, West Waco Library next to Target, and South Waco Library on South 18th near LaSalle.  Look for the blue bins!