On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 28, 2022:

Another Friends of the Library Book Sale has come and gone, but it wasn’t just another book sale. During preparation for the fall sale last year, publicity chairman Marsha Rakestraw declared the sale to be an “event,” and so it has become.

Setup, which begins on Tuesday of sale week, has always been something of an event, but it was much easier this year. Having signed up for the first shift of the week, I arrived at the City Centre at 8:00 am expecting to walk into an empty space and begin setting up tables. However, several members and their husbands had already arrived, and almost half the tables were already set up. By the time the Road and Bridge crew arrived about fifteen minutes later and began bringing in boxes of books, the tables were in place and waiting to be filled. And I had done little more than help with table placement and stay out of the way.

The next three hours were a flurry of unboxing and sorting. Experienced volunteers coached newcomers on how to sort and display the books in a manner that led one customer to make this comment: “This is the best organized book sale that I’ve ever seen.” When David picked me up for lunch, there was still a lot to be done, but there were lots of people still working with more arriving all the time. I intended to return on Wednesday afternoon to help finish up, but by the time our ladies’ Bible study was over, set up was finished. All that was left to do was to rest up on Thursday and be ready when the doors opened on Friday.

David dropped me at the City Centre at 8:30 Friday morning, and once again, I was far from the first to arrive. The sale didn’t officially open for thirty minutes, but a number of customers were already shopping. During setup, several volunteers had mentioned that we didn’t seem to have quite as many books as we had in October, but there was no less enthusiasm. Friday morning shoppers continued to arrive, and many were either serious readers or resellers. They came in pulling wagons or rolling carts and carrying reusable bags. Many were holding lists, and several even had hand-held scanners. Some stayed for several hours, and books rolled out the door.

Once again, David picked me up for lunch, and thanks to a full slate of afternoon volunteers, I waved goodbye until Saturday morning. I did, however, get a report shortly after closing time. The one day sales totaled almost as much as the two-day total for the October sale. We did, indeed, have some serious shoppers.

The second day of the sale was for bargain hunters and those looking for a fun Saturday outing – and what could be more fun than puppies and kittens. I arrived a little later than I had the day before, and both Sadie’s Place Rescue and New Favorite Day Dog Rescue were already set up outside the front doors. After greeting furbabies and their human friends, I went inside where shopping was again under way.

Enthusiasm was still high, but volunteers were more relaxed. On bargain day, books are sold by the bag or the box, so checkout is easier. There was time to visit and shop for treasures of our own in between offering customers another box or bag or offering to help carry their purchases to the car. Thankfully, someone had the foresight to bring a dolly.

Richard Nash, master story teller and Native American Flute player, arrived at 10:00 am. He played a song or two, told some stories to the children while their parents shopped, and some of us older children listened in. He put together an impromptu rhythm band including FOL President Cheryl Watson on drum, his sister Marsha Rakestraw on rain stick, and two young customers on other rhythm instruments. He also provided background music as FOL Board Member Linda Pietila gave a dramatic reading of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. And while all these events were happening, customers continued to find books they wanted to take home.

At the end of the day, I asked Sadie’s Place if any of her kittens had been adopted. They hadn’t been, but it was good for them to interact with new people. Hopefully, some of those new people will decide later to make that interaction permanent.

However, it was a “new favorite day” for Sarah, an almost five-year-old Great Pyrenees. She was sweet but shy, but when the group of people that turned out to be her new family first met her, she immediately warmed up to the children.

The sale itself is now history, but the effects of it will continue for a long time. Gently used books that could have been discarded are now in the hands of new readers, and many children will remember hearing stories and playing in a “band.” Sarah has a new home, and other furbaby connections may have been made. Most importantly, thanks to the patronage and generosity of our many supporters the Friends of the Rains County Public Library will be able to continue their mission of encouraging literacy through Pre-K Story time, the Summer Reading Program, and other Library programs. That certainly seems like more than a sale to me.

Blessings,

Linda

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