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Books, Books, Books!

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For the love of books! (You know what I’m talking about.)

It isn’t hard to find kind words about those bound hunks of dead trees and ink known as books. Whether you ask a bookseller at your favorite bookstore who recommends a title because she thoroughly enjoyed turning every page (and not simply because she is trying to raise the company’s bottom line) or invite a librarian to chat you up with a book talk on the latest hot item to hit the circulation shelves. For centuries, the art of storytelling has been carefully preserved on pages in books on shelves in libraries, whether for the use of the masses or hidden away in a secret stash of a private residence.

It is said that no one can be considered friendless who has the companionship of good books (Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and that we read to know we are not alone (C.S. Lewis). During the weekend of August 4th and 5th, plenty of book lovers found themselves in good company as they turned out to show their support for the written word at the annual book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Warren Library (FOWL) held at the main location of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library system. Presented the first weekend in August, the book sale is the main fundraiser to supplement library funds that support yearly programs and provides a way for the library to acquire freshly-released materials and keep the circulating collection current.

The tome-toting traffic travelled along like a well-written plot as buyers politely and purposefully wove between rows and rows of tables stacked with thin books and thick books, books with bright, bold eye-catching paintings and books heavily laden with black and white text covering the pages. Some customers perused casually, finding reason to devote several minutes to giving each item the consideration it deserved – those pretty pages can be quite distracting! – while others sifted systematically, taking their initial choices into an empty corner of the hallway to sort and organize in relative tranquility.

Many earth-conscious brought reusable shopping bags themed for the occasion with literary quotes or graphics straight out of a book-addict’s daily life. Boxes were available for those who forgot to bring their own carry-all, or for those who insisted they didn’t need a cardboard container because they would only be choosing one or two items that would fit just fine in their hands. (Only to get halfway through the aisles and find it necessary to either grow more hands or utilize one of the empty boxes preemptively stowed along the route by knowing volunteers in anticipation of such a situation.) (I confess: I was one of THOSE.) Prices ranged from .25 to just a couple dollars per book, and other items such as audio books (books on tape), CDs and DVDs were also available, though the true purists only had eyes for the sea of paperbacks and hardcovers stretching out in front of them through several rooms and washing down the hallway in between. Customers who waited until Sunday to visit (or came back for a second run) were treated to an all-inclusive $2-a-bag day and there were still plenty of choices despite the Saturday rush and FOWL members-only preview the night before that.

If you missed this year’s sale, there is still quite a plethora of opportunities to join in the book joy. The  W-TCPL, including its branches, has a mini-book sale with an ample selection available just inside its entrance, accessible whenever the library is open. While you’re waiting for August 2013 to roll around for the next big sale, there are plenty of local libraries with annual book sales rotating throughout the alternate seasons. Keep in mind that most local libraries have their own “Friends” groups and they’re always looking for new volunteers to get involved. Some libraries only sponsor a big yearly event, but others even have a special room designated as a mini bookstore that operates year-round with hours of its own. So stop by your favorite library and inquire about book sales, other fundraisers and general opportunities to volunteer. You’ll get to meet new people, share your love of reading, and be surrounded by books! (What could be better?)

If the last thing you need is more books and are looking for ideas of what to do with all those old books you’ll never read again, those audio books you’ll likely never listen to again or those old videotapes or DVDs you’ll never watch again, consider donating them to your local library. Items still in fairly good condition might very well make it onto the current library shelves and find their way into circulation to be shared with countless other patrons. If the library decides they already have enough copies of a particular item or the shelf space for a subject is spoken for and it cannot be used in the collection, the item will generally be sorted for the next book sale, the proceeds of which will go to help fund library programs, acquire newly released materials, or fill holes left by well-loved books that were retired to the sale themselves, on their way to a new home. Abraham Lincoln once said that “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” You may very well become someone’s new best friend by providing a “new” book to them through a donation to the library. (And guess what? Now you’ll have room for all those wonderful books you’re going to buy at the next book sale!)

Celebrated broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite stated that “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” Nowhere else can one go to learn something new without paying tuition, travel anywhere one chooses without paying airfare, and meet new friends that can only be found among the pages of a fantastical world created by someone else’s imagination. READ and be proud to be a book worm!

Reader Responses

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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.

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