Ever since my grandparents moved to Fullerton, my family has been going to library book sales. My parents are now members of the Friends of the Fullerton Public Library, a non-profit organization that helps raise funds for the library through the Friends Bookstore (located in the library) and the annual book sales.
Their mission is to support the Library, its services and programs by advocating for public support and use of the Library, by generating current and long-term funding, and by developing volunteer involvement. This month, I got an exclusive look at how the Friends prepare for their book sales in the Osborne Auditorium at the Main Branch.
On November 7th, 1961, fourteen representatives of Fullerton organizations met in the city librarian’s office to discuss the formation of the Friends of the Fullerton Public Library. During the meeting, Mrs. Edwin Arthur, of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), explained that the “idea for the formation of the group had arisen in connection with the Book Fair held by her organization.” Mrs. Arthur, along with other members of the AAUW, had gathered used books and house plants to sell for the benefit of the library. Shortly after handing over their first check, they met with then-Library Director Harry Rowe to officially form the Friends of the Library.
Over fifty years later, the Friends are still making things happen at the Fullerton Public Library. The very active Board of the Friends sets the standard for other adult volunteers by maintaining a close working relationship with the Library Director and the Division managers. Through the years, the Friends have raised funds through membership dues and book sales.
On September 7th, 8th, and 9th, the organization held its autumn book sale in the Main Library’s Osborne Auditorium.
Visitors wait in line to enter the Friends’ recent book sale.
With a mailing list of over 600 members, 335 paid memberships and 50 life- time memberships, the Friends receive a lot of items, which they sell at their book store, 1-day and 3-day book sales, and also online through Amazon. The various sale items are donated by members of the community to the Library.
The day before the sale started, I met with Leslie Allen, a long-time member of the Friends, at the Library Bookstore. After introducing me to a few members of the board, Ms. Allen explained what happens in preparation for the book sale.
Walking through the crowded aisles of donations ready to be taken to the audito-rium for the sale, I met Dave Lynch, one of the two male boardmembers who bring the donations downstairs, and Kathy Brayton, who has been with the Friends for 16 years and sorts and prices the dona- tions. Kathy said, “We tend to get collec- tions when people die. We get a lot of teacher’s books. They switch grades or they retire, and they’ll bring in boxes of teaching materials.”
Friends organize book donations in preparation for the book sale.
Ms. Brayton added, “We find interesting things in books. We’ve found pictures, lots of bills, and money before. There was one time when we found a bank note from Columbia or Peru that looked like it might be worth a whole lot. I heard there was this place in Disneyland that does currency exchange, so I took it there, but it turned out it was an old discontinued note that was worth nothing. We take that kind of stuff like foreign coins up to the Children’s Library and they use them in crafts or as prizes.”
The Friends pointed toward where the collectable and vintage books were stored. Ms. Allen said, “Tom Hall, who’s the other male boardmember, is an expert on collectable books, so we give them all to him. He researches them and prices them. Some of them are really great finds.”
The Friends of the Library hauled boxes of books, DVDs, CDs, videotapes and vinyl records to the designated tables of the Osborne Auditorium, each with a labeled tag. The Friends always try to keep their regular customers in mind and try not to move subjects around anymore than absolutely necessary.
The books are arranged by subject area.
“Some subjects need sub-subjects,” said Donna Jaeker. “These are tabled logically, so Dieting is on the Cooking or Health Table, Bibles on the Religion Table, Parenting on the Sociology Table, College Prep next to Literature and Vintage Fiction, and Collectables next to Vintage.” All the tables have to have a certain amount of space between them to make sure there’s room for required wheelchair ADA access.
Walking over to the cash register table where most of the members had gathered, Janet Wolf from the Friends explained, “Because members pay dues, they a 10% discount in the bookstore on any purchase. Only members can come in from 10am to noon on the first day of the book sale. So I’ll be the person outside with a list of all the members and they have to show me their card or they don’t get in. People can also pay the 2019 membership at the door and I will give them a card to get in.”
This gives members of the Friends the first pick at the book sale. The general public sale hours begin at noon. I went with my dad on the first day since my family pays the membership fee. I happened to find some film and photography books for myself, along with a few DVDs, while my dad bought some CDs and a rare colored Dave Brubeck vinyl record.
The sale continued through Sunday, September 9th and ended at 4pm., with remaining items being offered at a special discounted rate of “two bucks a bag.” All proceeds from sales go to the Friends for the Library. The funds are often used to purchase books for the library and invest in computers and reading programs for library patrons.
The Friends of the Fullerton Public Library hold two used book sales a year, and they are extremely popular among the community, so be sure to look out for them in 2019. Also, the next time you visit the Library, check out the Friends Book Store, which is located adjacent to the Local History Room on the main floor.
To watch my full interview with the Friends of the Library, click HERE.
If you have any suggestions about a place or event in Fullerton that would make a good video and that I could cover in this column, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.