The Making of a Library Book Sale

The real reason I wanted to join the Board of our Friends of the Library was simple. I wanted to get my hands on ALL of the books! Do we raise money to support the library, its programs, and staff? Absolutely. Does my contribution help us raise more money? Yes! I give freely of my time, because I LOVE it. I help with the ongoing sorting by going through donations a few times a week and deciding what goes out in our ongoing sale. We make around $1000 a month from this small ongoing sale.

Twice a year, we throw a big bash and invite all of the books! We store them in many secret places…

We start with the meeting room that’s set up for groups to reserve and have to move tables out and bring 20 big tables in. I draw the map (I tweak it every sale and it gets tweaked further as we start putting books out) and we start by bringing the presorted boxes out to their correct area. We usually have a few loaders and deliverers and the rest start unpacking. After that we bring in the books from the mess of a sorting room and from our ongoing sale. I was there at 4 on Wednesday to start moving tables around and around 8 volunteers came in at 6pm and we worked til the library closed at 9. We were back at it first thing (I took Gage to camp so only had and hour and 45 minutes) with 4 volunteers. They left at 12. I was back at 4 with Gage and it took me about an hour and a half to finish up. At 6 pm 2 volunteers set up the membership table and started the line. We had 6 volunteers for the sale itself that started at 7pm.

We have a board of 15 and every member signs up for a shift and some a few shifts. I’m there for the long haul. I took off only 2 1/2 hours the whole time. I told you I loved the books 🙂 A month and a half before the sale I contact all Friends members who had expressed an interested in helping. There were 7 this time. As a bonus the high school Key Club teacher gave me a list of kids and when they wanted to help. I tried to verify with all 12 of them their times. Even with that only half showed up when they were supposed to. At least half I never even saw!

The sale ran 2 hours for members on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9-5, and Sunday from 1-3:30 (bag day). We made over $3100.

On Sunday we allow pre-approved non-profits to come and take several bags of book for their charity. This time around we had 7, our largest turnout yet!

Then from 3:30-5 we tear down the sale by boxing up the books for other libraries. In the past we’ve had one library with very low funding, come and take all of our unsold books to sell at their sale and it was great. They rented a U-Haul and brought a team and took EVERYTHING. They can no longer do this so we had to do some different things with everything we didn’t sell. First, we divvied them up between 5 libraries based on the types of books they requested. We always have one board member who comes and gets all cookbooks to donate to Edwin’s. I am so grateful to her for doing this for such a worthy cause.

So, that leaves us with hundreds of books. This time we decided to put them all out in our ongoing sale area and try to sell them for 25 cents. That will run until Saturday. On Sunday we have a LFL steward who will come and take as much as she wants of what’s left and we’ll, sadly, recycle the rest. Thankfully, our library system recycles them for us if we get them packed up in bins.

You might be asking how many books I came home with. I always buy a bag on bag day and throw things in it as we tear down the sale. I came home 7 books, 2 of them Jason tossed in.

So, there you have it in all of the nitty gritty detail. How different is your library sale? I always love to hear new ideas!

Oh, and as an added bonus, Cindy, from Cindy’s Book Corner came by and we were able to chat a bit. I’m hoping we’ll be able to meet up again soon. Book people are the best people 🙂

12 thoughts on “The Making of a Library Book Sale

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    Our library has a sale twice a year where you can bring a bag and fill it with books for $10 a bag. I usually come home with a LOADED bag. This year I might make it two as I’ll get some for my MIL if there are some I think she might like. I’ll also look for ones I can repurpose into junk journals.

  2. Bill Rafalski says:

    Excellent summary about our recent book sale. Like you I enjoy working library book sales. I have been working book sales for more than 30 years.
    Your use of the Key Club was terrific.
    You did a good job of getting volunteers to sign up and show up to work.
    Take care.

  3. Mae Sander says:

    Fascinating detail about organizing a book sale. I’ve never volunteered to do work like that, but I used to enjoy shopping for used books until my shelves overran and I switched pretty much to kindle reading. You are generous to help your library.

    best, mae at

  4. Mia is mine says:

    Oh! I remember when our library had it’s own space in our library and I loved it – and bought way too many books in the name of supporting our local library (right?). 😊Thank you for your hard work! Look at those hands filled with evidence of your loving labor! It sounds like your sale was a great success!
    For many reasons, your link to Edwin’s brought tears to my eyes…..beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

  5. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz says:

    I get an email once a month about upcoming library sales. I try to visit all those that are close. My favorite nearby library sale is at the Galveston library. They always have an extraordinary number of books that are about art and poetry, and I’m always happy with the interesting picture books and books of literary fiction there. I spent $70 there this year, which is way-high for me, but I came home with a box of amazing books.

    It sounds to me like you are doing an amazing job of running the book sale. The Houston Public Library takes all their expensive books and sells them online (good for them—sad for us).

  6. gulfsidemusing says:

    Your post brings back a lot of memories from when I was on the Friends board at our library in NY. Most people don’t realize how much work goes into those sales! And what fun to meet another blogger!

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