Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Town

September 27, 2010

Hundreds turn out to find best book selections

TRAVERSE CITY — Dozens of bibliophiles sifted through thousands of books Saturday morning.

The initial crowd attending the annual Friends of the Traverse Area District Library arrived early to snag the best fiction and nonfiction, children's books, local offerings and cookbooks. A room in the library's children's section featured puzzles as well as media ranging from videotapes and books on tape to CDs and DVDs.

Shoppers began jamming the vestibule of the Woodmere facility before the Annual Used and Almost Rare Book Sale's 9 a.m. start. When the doors opened, they fanned out into the McGuire Community Room with single-minded purpose.

Alesha Miller, of Traverse City, arrived ready to go, her shopping philosophy honed from attending a prior book sale: "Come early and bring a box."

Miller and others checked out bargains galore on hardcover books in excellent condition, with prices averaging $2 to $5.

Exiting with an armful of finds, happy despite exceeding her budget, Miller mostly had been searching for fiction. Weaving through the crush of early shoppers, she culled her purchases from neatly organized rows of books, sorted on tables by price.

"I was able to get a lot of great stuff and a lot on my to-read list," she said.

The annual sale held by the Friends of the Library group has been around for more than 25 years, though the exact start date of the fundraiser is lost to history.

Proceeds from the event, which last year totaled $16,000, benefit a host of library programs including TC Reads, Poet's Night Out, the Live! At the Library series and summer reading programs. This year the Friends group also supported the National Writers Series, noted Ruth Bay, president of the Friends group.

"All money goes back into the library to programs that fit our mission," she said.

Bay also appreciated the high spirits of both shoppers and volunteers Saturday morning.

"You just get fired up about (the sale). We've worked long and hard, and this is the culmination," she said.

Friends volunteers cull items donated to the library all year, storing those designated for the sale on the building's third floor. Sorting and pricing begins in earnest in mid-August, with each book individually priced. Sale organizers spent Friday bringing thousands of items down from storage and meticulously arranging them.

This year's sale featured an abundance of offerings.

"There are more books than ever, I have no estimate," said Tom Levi, co-chair of the event.

John and Judy Ridout, of Traverse City, exited the sale with three big bags. The avid readers wielded a list of favorite authors to help them select books. Purchasing mainly fiction, John Ridout was also happy to find a Photoshop reference book.

"Very good and well organized — and it's for a worthy cause," said Judy Ridout of the event.

Another couple attending Saturday morning, Hank and Bonnie Visser, usually work book sales from the other end. Members of the Friends of the Almira Township Library, the Vissers for many years helped put on an annual fundraising sale.

"Being a fan of libraries anyway, this to me is wonderful," Hank Visser said.

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