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Library gears up for book sale on Aug 19

If you're looking for a book, the Pleasant Hill Library might be the first place you go. This weekend, it's also the place to go if you're looking to buy a book.

The Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library will be hosting a book sale Friday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A half-price sale will be held for the last hour of the sale on Saturday, starting roughly at 1 p.m.

The book sale is a semiannual event and one of the primary ways the Friends raise the money they use to support the library.

Thanks to the Friends, the library can offer several programs - all free - to the public. Want to make a gingerbread house with your kids? The Friends have a program for that, and provide all the materials and candy needed for each child to create his or her candy castle. The Friends also use the money to buy furniture, computers, display cases and book bins for the library, add to its collections and enhance the grounds.

Working with the Friends has given the library more than purchasing support.

"It's an invaluable connection to the community," said Allan Cotter, the library's branch manager. "The library is all about partnering with the community."

Members of the Friends act as ambassadors for the library and promoters of its events, and contribute new ideas. For the past eight years, the Hastings Friends have been working under the leadership of Kathy Almendinger, who has been serving as the organization's president. Almendinger is retiring this year.

Don Olson, vice president of the Friends and a member of the County Library Foundation Board, has been involved with the library for several years. He's the one primarily responsible for keeping the books sorted and getting them ready for the sale. It's no easy job, with more than 4,000 books, not including CDs, videos, puzzles, games and other multimedia materials. When he retired, Olson volunteered to take on the work. He sorts the books into categories: hardcover fiction, paperback fiction, nonfiction, young adult, children's, cookbooks, religion and travel. The materials are boxed up and labeled and stacked in a hallway out of the way of the public until the sale. There are so many boxes now that staff at the library have dubbed the area where they're stored "Don's wall."

Last year and this year, the book sale has offered an opportunity for the library to connect with youth in the juvenile detention center. Books have to be moved from the staff hallway into the public meeting room for the sale, and the sheer number of materials make that move a labor intensive one. Many of the members of the Friends are elderly and can't lift that much weight, Olson explained, so they've made an arrangement to have the youth in the detention center come in to move the boxes for them.

With prices ranging from $.25 to $2, the sale usually brings in $3,000 to $4,000 for the Friends, Olson said.

The materials for sale are discarded library materials and donations from the public. The library decides to discard an item depending on how much wear it has endured, how current its information is and public demand, Cotter explained. When a popular new book is released, Olson explained, the library will buy multiple copies to meet the initial demand of readers. As the title ages, demand drops off and the library can discard its extra copies.

After the sale, the Friends will sell books by the bag for about $2 per bag.

"We make quite a bit of money after the sale," Olson said.

"There is an ongoing book sale as well," Cotter added.

Throughout the year, the library keeps a shelf of books near the entry where people can find a small selection of books available for purchase.

If there are any books left after the bag sales, books are sent to area organizations including the Lewis House in Hastings, the county jail and sometimes the Minnesota Veteran's Home. Leftovers are also used to fill the year-round sale shelf.

To learn more about the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library, stop in the library and look for their flyer or email Information is also available online at the Dakota County website, Look for the Library link, then click on Support Your Library.