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Book Sale draws Ithaca Locals

Book Sale draws Ithaca Locals

Inexpensive books available to all through Friends of the Library

Janet Locke is an Ithaca local and said she has been coming to the Friends of the Library (FOL) Book Sale for years. She said she collects and makes children’s books and enjoys being able to explore the diversity available at the sale.

“I just wander around looking at all the different sections and finding new things,” Locke said. “It’s like an old-fashioned library because in Ithaca the libraries are so big it’s hard to just browse. And here, you can just browse and find new subject matter that I wouldn’t normally look for.”

The bi-annual FOL Book Sale is in full swing this October — bringing in a wide variety of books and people.

There were rows and rows of books in the warehouse that was home to the Friends of the Library Book Sale. Source: Caitlin Holtzman/Ithaca Week

The sale takes place in May and October, running for multiple weekends in each month, most recently running from Oct. 8–10, 15–17 and 22–25. Kathy Weinberg, Book Sale assistant coordinator, said the prices of the books vary from weekend to weekend. 

The first weekend, the books are more “expensive” — ranging from $4.50 for things like hardback books down to $1.50 for things like children’s softcover books. The second weekend, hardback books go down to $1.50 while almost everything else is between $1 or 25 cents. Lastly, the final weekend, prices drop to 10–50 cents, and on the final day, the price is $1 for whatever can be fit into a bag.

“If you’re interested in getting lots of books, if you’re interested in getting summer reading, like 40 paperbacks to take to the beach, that’s the weekend to get them,” Weinberg said.

The low prices and wide range of books — like agriculture to classics to math to photography and more — is what makes the sale so fantastic, Weinberg said. 

The items sold at the Book Sale ranged from adult to children’s books, video games, CDs and DVDs, board games, and more. Source: Caitlin Holtzman/Ithaca Week

She said she has been working at the sale and sorting books for years and has been interested in sorting books from all different categories. Now, she sorts books in general science and those that defy categories. 

“Everyone’s favorite job here is during our intake period, when we’re accepting donations, is rough sorting our incoming books,” Weinberg said. “They get sorted into 70 plus categories and then put into boxes, and the boxes then get sent out to the correct categories on the floor.”

Books with purpose 

Not only is the FOL Book Sale a great place for people to buy books in bulk for cheap, but the money made is given back to the community.

Weinberg said some of the grant money goes toward education, library and community organization grants.

Weinberg said some of those grants are given to the Finger Lakes Library System and the Tompkins County Public Library. The grants may also go back to a variety of different local services and other libraries like the Hospice and Palliative Care Service and Tompkins Learning Partners.

“Anything that is literacy related, they can apply for grants and we make grant money available and they get grants for specific programs that they are working on with the public,” Weinberg said.

The book sale experience

Locke said she has a system for what collections to look at each weekend. During the first weekend she starts with movies and art books. For the second weekend, she browses the children’s books as well as sections she has never been to before. During the final weekend, she looks at the spiritual books.

Laura Ann Lou said this was her fourth time at the Book Sale and had first heard about it by finding a bookmark when out in Ithaca.

“You can always find something,” Lou said. “The challenge is not finding more than you can fit in your house.”

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