Books for Bucks: The Lowdown on the Booksale Room

Laramie County Library has 214 active volunteers, and they are Ah-Maz-Ing! As the Volunteer Coordinator, I am continually awed by the volunteers of all ages who give so freely of their most precious commodity; time. Library volunteers racked up over 12,000 hours for us in 2018. When we say we cannot do what we do without volunteers, it is absolutely true. Volunteers do everything for us from pulling weeds to assisting with library programs. Our Book Sale Room has the most volunteer hours dedicated to it at nearly 3,500 hours in 2018. This room is 100% run by volunteers. Let me give you a small glimpse of what goes into it each and every week.

The library receives thousands of donated items, on average, per week. Two of our long-term volunteers, Walt & Norma have been sorting through these donated books for nearly 20 years! The donations come in and twice a week Walt & Norma spend hours going through each one. They check for autographs, condition, bookmarks, etc. They then sort them into either fiction, non-fiction, paperback, children’s or rare. They place them into a storage area where the books sit for a week. During that time all of the library “selectors” (employees who select books for the collection) have the opportunity to look through them and add any to the collection that we might need. Sometimes a book comes in that can replace one of the heavily used books in our collection, other times we simply wish to add it because we don’t already have a copy.

There are books that we cannot sell in the Book Sale Room for various reasons: we have too many copies, it is a topic that doesn’t sell well, etc. These books are boxed up by our dedicated volunteers Ethan and Linda. Our facilities department then puts them onto pallets and we ship them to a company called Thrift Books. Thrift Books sells them online for us, and we receive half of the proceeds. Whatever Thrift Books is unable to sell, they donate to local charities or recycle.

On Tuesday afternoons another long-time volunteer, Judi, comes in and moves the non-fiction books that are on the “new” shelf to their respective category. We have the following non-fiction categories:

  • Sports
  • Biographies & Politics
  • Military & History
  • Arts, Crafts & Hobbies
  • Reference
  • Religion
  • Poetry, Literature & Humor
  • Self Help & Health
  • Food & Cookbooks
  • Oversized

Judi keeps an eye out for books that have been sitting on the shelf for a long time, if she notices one has not sold she will pull it off to make room for the new donations.

On Thursday mornings before the Book Sale Room opens the Quist family comes in, they move the fiction books into their spots. We sort fiction by author’s last name. If certain letters are full on the shelves we have a “fiction overflow” area where they can place them there until there is more room. Once they are finished they put the “new” donations out. The Book Sale Room consists of the following sections:

  • Non-Fiction
  • Old / Rare
  • Autographed
  • Large Print
  • Sets
  • Children’s
  • Fiction
  • AV (audiovisual)

The dedicated Book Sale Room volunteers have a regular time slot, some are here for one hour and some stay for longer. They come in week after week, in snow, sleet and hail! They are the heart and soul of the room, and we are so thankful for them. If a volunteer is unable to come in for their time slot, and we cannot find a substitute, the Circulation team covers the room. We are a well-oiled machine!

We have fill-a-bag sales three times a year, in February, July and October. This is when you can bring in a reusable grocery bag and fill it with anything in the room for only $5.00. Our sale in July was the most successful sale we’ve ever had, we made over $1,800 for library programs!

If you are interested in donating books, you can bring them to the library any time we are open, we have a wagon you can borrow to load up. If you have more than a wagon full, we would gladly meet you down at the garage doors to unload, we just ask you call to arrange a time 307.634.3561.

~Anna M.