Book lovers will be gathering this weekend at Smart’s Mill Middle School, at 850 N. King St. in Leesburg, for the Loudoun Library Foundation’s annual sale of used books, DVDs, videos and CDs.
Hours will be from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, June 24; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 25, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 26. The Sunday sale is given over to the popular “bag sale,” during which a bag of books goes for $10. Payment is by cash or checks only, no credit cards.
Rooms at Smart’s Mill will be packed with more than 100,000 used books of all descriptions. And kids through 8th grade get a free book when they attend the sale.
Loudoun Library Foundation has been sponsoring the sale for the better part of 25 years. It is run by volunteers, who collect, sort and price the books and audiovisuals over the year, then turn up to actually staff the sale.
All proceeds go to various Loudoun Public Library branches and programs. Library branches apply for grants—there are 12 applications this year—which are then vetted by library administration before a number are selected to be forwarded to the LLF, which then selects the final grants. Two applications that always receive funding are the summer reading programs and Books for Babies. The grants always include Thomas Balch Library, that receives funds for research projects, archival materials and processing, including micro-filming newspapers and other documents.
But the 2016 sale will be special, as for a long time earlier this year its future was in jeopardy. Many times over its existence, the LLF has had to scramble for donated space in which to collect, store and sort the numerous books donated by the public over the year—but this year’s sale was the closest it has ever been to not happening.
When the LLF lost the donated space it had been in in Villages of Leesburg, the group said it had until March to find new space or it would have to cancel the sale. For a good while, it appeared that the sale could not go on, but longtime sale volunteer and librarian at Thomas Balch Library Mary Fishback said help arrived, just in time, in April.
“It’s been a bit of a scramble, but we’ve been loaned office space in Ashburn. We have it until July 15,” Fishback said. Best of all, is the possibility that an old service station in Sterling Park will be donated for LLF use for two years.
This week, all hands were on deck arranging the massive volume of books as best they could, given the lack of sorting time, so everything is ready when the doors open on Friday.
Fishback, who is in charge of “special books,” notes that “military and history are always big,” and there is good inventory of that in both the special books section and the regular $2 per book price range. Videos and CDs are $2 each. Also, “we have a lot of very nice art and literature books,” she said. Kids’ books are always popular, and there is an extensive selection.
While there are not as many sets of books this year, given the short turnaround and lack of storage, there are a lot of autographed books, including those signed by Senators John McCain and Bernie Sanders. “They’re big for autograph hounds,” Fishback said, noting the autograph is often more important to the buyer than the book title.
Sunday, if you can bear to wait that long, is the best time as for $10, you can get all the books you can cram into the grocery bags given out by volunteers. Special books also are discounted—to half price.
The longtime volunteer said of her years of working at the sale “It’s a lot of fun, you meet a lot of people—from everywhere. And the money goes for a lot of really good causes.”