“I’ve been going to the sale ever since it started in a tent on the courthouse lawn,” Judy Russell said. “My husband started going with me about nine years ago. We get a sausage biscuit and sit in line until the doors open.”
Those familiar with the sale begin lining up as early as 5 a.m. on the morning it opens, said Sandy Denman, chairman of the annual event.
“I count them as they come in, and there were 184 people in line when the doors opened last year,” Denman said. “Many of them have books in hand to donate,” in addition to eagerly wanting to be among the first to grab the best books, she said.
The Russells usually return once or twice during the sale’s run.
“We always overlook something and find it when we come back,” Judy Russell said. “It’s one of the highlights of the summer, and it provides us with all the books we can carry home for great winter entertainment.”
The parking lot at the Haywood County Public Library fills up early, so the library has arrangements with the First Methodist Church of Waynesville for overflow parking, she said.
Denman describes the first day of the sale as madness but said there are some volunteers who want to work that first morning because they enjoy the excitement.
“It’s very crowded, and business stays steady all day,” she said. A lot of volunteers work together to make sure everything goes smoothly, she added.
Friends of the Library held their first book sale in 1975, and each year it has grown, said Denman, who has helped with the sale since 1978.
Lee Myers, 85, has been volunteering with the book sale for more than 30 years. Her husband, George, and her son, John, also helped until their death a few years ago.
An avid reader herself, Myers said she enjoys the event and looks forward to it every year.
“We’re like a family. Most of the volunteers have been together for quite a few years, and it’s fun,” she said. “I help with this because I like making books available to people at reasonable prices.”
Volunteers work year-round, accepting, sorting and pricing donations that come in weekly. A large room in the lower level of the library houses many of the books. The week before the sale, books that have been boxed up and stored during the course of the year are unpacked and placed on tables.
“We have everything ready except some last-minute touches,” Myers said.
While the event originally started with books cycled off the library shelves, about 80 percent of the items offered now come from private donations.
“We start fresh each year. Anything that doesn’t sell is donated to organizations like Hearts With Hands, who delivered books last year to libraries that were destroyed by floods and other storm damage,” Denman said.
Friends of the Library raised $32,000 last year with the book sale, and Denman said she is hoping to raise even more this year. That should be no problem, as the group has received donations of more non-fiction books than Friends of the Library has seen in the last 10 years, she said.
Books are sorted by subject to make it easier for shoppers to find specific books. In addition to almost new non-fiction books, there are cookbooks, gardening, history, home repair, and children’s books, to name only a few of the sections. Autographed and collectible volumes can often be found at the sale, Denman said.
Book bargains await
Carve out plenty of time to peruse the bulging shelves of the Haywood County Friend’s of the Library book sale this week. The sale is held in the lower level of the Waynesville library. Doors open at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 26, and will continue until 7 p.m. that day. Friday’s hours are 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. There also will be a tent sent up outside in front of the garage at the rear of the library.
All proceeds from the annual book sale are used to purchase materials and fund library programs. Shoppers can bring their own boxes and bags but no strollers, as the area becomes very congested at times.