Friday, May 4, 2012

Something Fun for the Whole Family

You never know what to expect. That is part of the fun. It may be the most exciting event of the year, or a complete waste of time. Either way, if the whole family goes, we will have fun together and good memories of a day spent with one another.

How? Where? Plundering the offerings of library sales. It’s a good thing there aren’t more within driving  distance of our rural community or we probably wouldn’t get much else done. Over the years, we have built our family’s library from the gleanings of these sales.

Libraries help support their service to the public with volunteers, Friends of the Library, who work year  round collecting books to sell at their local library’s fund raiser. The library itself discards books throughout the year to make room for new ones and get rid of "obsolete" books or those never checked out by anyone.  Individuals in the community donate boxes of unwanted books every year to the library as well. All these contributions supply the tables and shelves the library sets out for the public to come and purchase for  minimal fees. The average prices around here are $1-2 for hardbacks, $.50-$1 for paperbacks. During the last day or hours of the sale books are often offered for $1.00-5.00 for all you can squeeze into a bag.

You can’t beat the price. Library sales appeals to our good old American love of a bargain. They are an excellent and economical way for a homeschool family to get more reading to fuel the fire of their children’s education and imaginations.

Be careful. This activity can become addictive. A library sale offers mystery and the thrill of mining for gold. However, you cannot go with a list of desired books in hand and expect to go to a designated spot on the shelf and find your desired book. Some sales are very organized, others just boxes of miscellaneous genres, but this adds to the mystery and adventure. The reward is finding treasures you never expected or finding unknown books you have never seen that become your family’s favorites. At a library sale you can find children’s picture books, chapter books, classics, mysteries, cookbooks, poetry, travel…the possibilities are endless. After experiencing a few sales, you will quickly learn how to avoid the twaddle and the pop fiction and hone in on your favorites.

Our greatest fishing story is the time we were visiting friends and heard about the wonderful books they had gotten a couple days before at their local small town book sale. We looked at the clock and saw there were a couple hours left and we could make it. We walked in at 3:29 p.m., thinking the sale ran till 5:00 p.m. to  be told by the tired volunteer that there was one minute left to the sale. My 13-year-old daughter ran to the children’s table, spotted an old book, picked it up to discover it was V.M. Hilyer’s A Child's History of Art. I owned a shaky cloth-bound copy I had paid $75 for years before. We went home with this one for $0.15.

This is why our heart pounds a little faster as we wait in line. We have been known to arrive at 6:00 a.m.,  travel through blizzards, thunder and lightning, or flooded roads to get there early enough to be first, or sixth in line. Those few hours early give us a few moments of first picks at the tables once the doors are open and we can scurry inside (adrenalin pumping) to our favorite area. On the other hand, there are the last minute wonders noted above, just dropping in after everything is picked over. You never know. Someone may have put a book back before leaving that is exactly what you have always searched for.

It is that thrill of the chase, that elusive best-book-you’ll-ever-read, that keeps you going back. Apparently we’re not alone. Yesterday we went to a small sale in Greenville, a tiny town in rural Tennessee. We got there two hours before it opened and were not first in line. By the opening moment, we could not see the end of the line down the street and people were lined up ten abreast. There were probably 400-500 people waiting in the hot sun – 90 degrees by the bank thermometer. The tension builds as the hour approaches. The excitement is palpable in the air and gabble of voices eagerly awaiting the door to be open. The surge carries you inside and everyone runs every which way for their science fiction or romance or westerns. We  hit the children’s table. The more children we take, the more hands and eyes to hunt. I get to guard the boxes they fill and anticipate the squeals and gasps from my children’s thrilled response when they spot a treasure.

I have to go unload the van of all the treasures we hauled home, but I can’t help smiling to myself thinking about that crowd yesterday so intently seeking out old books. Do you really think the e-book phenomenon is going to make the library sale adventure a thing of the past? Would you like to share your best "library fishing story" with us?

For the joy of reading,


1 comment:

  1. I joined our Friends group so I could shop early at the sales! If I help set up for the sale, I can buy up to 20 items that night at 50% off!! I'll leave with 20 books for well under $20. Last sale I picked up a copy of Hungry Planet for $1! I know it's not a classic, but I think it's a fascinating book and one that will be great for geography study. My heart pounds big time any time I go to a book sale...loved reading about your experiences!