Library book sale to benefit reading programs

Argen Duncan

With far more than 5,000 books, the long-running tradition of the Friends of Portales Public Library used book sale is returning this week.

Library Director Denise Burnett said the annual sale was already established when she came on at the library 25 years ago.

This year’s sale involves a variety of children’s and adult’s books from the community and the contents of 50 boxes donated from Eastern New Mexico University’s Golden Library. Friends member Betty Williamson said the event would have a large religion section because the Friends received collections of two pastors.

“It’s our biggest single fundraiser, and one of the things we like about it is it pulls people into the library that we don’t often see here,” she said.

Proceeds support library programming such as the Summer Reading Program, Reading Is Fundamental book distributions and the Women’s History brunch.

Hardbacks sell for 50 cents and paperbacks for 25 cents, except during two specials in which books are sold by the bag. Reader’s Digest condensed books are free.

Williamson said the sale is a lot of work for the amount of money it makes, but it’s fun.

“Pretty much everybody who helps with this loves books or they wouldn’t be here,” she said.

Williamson and fellow Friends member Louise Shoemaker agreed they enjoying finding out what’s hidden in the many boxes.

“It’s just like Christmas,” Shoemaker said.

While sorting this year, Shoemaker discovered a book with a 1883 copyright date, plus a 1929 book about a circuit-riding minister in Texas.

As an added perk, volunteers get to shop early.

“You work, but you get the opportunity to nab some treasures along the way,” Williamson said.

Williamson said there is something for everyone, and even regular browsers in the library’s used book store will find new items. Selections range from Max Lucado’s “And the Angels Were Silent” to Leo Tolstoy’s work to a book called “Life’s Way Too Short to Fold Your Underwear.”

“The more books people buy, the less we have to put away,” Williamson said.

Every other year, the Friends purge unsold books.

Books that have outlived their usefulness, such as outdated computer manuals, wind up in the trash. Others go to nursing homes, thrift stores, Roosevelt County Detention Center and so forth, Williamson said.

Last year was the purge year, so this year, the unsold books are headed back to the storage room.