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Posts tagged ‘Friends of the Library’

Book sale tales | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 27, 2022:

Another FOL Book Sale has come and gone, and we are a tired but happy bunch of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who worked and everyone who shopped to make the event a huge success. Final figures have not been announced, but the first day was so busy that total sales, dues, and donations were expected to reach a record amount.

Most of the mechanics of the event are familiar enough to have become routine, so they no longer provide much writing material. However, the roadside signs are usually worth a story or two. Putting up the flag signs is especially challenging because parts seem to go missing from one sale to the next. They’re probably hiding in some corner, giggling along with the missing socks and plastic container lids. This time we couldn’t find the screws that tighten the tie-down clamps – a very important part, especially on a windy day. But creative use of duct tape came into play, and both signs survived both sale days without incident.

One of the best parts of the sale is the customers. Friends who only see each other twice a year at the sale renew friendships over a common love of books, and new friendships are formed because of the same common interest. The book sale is a much anticipated event for some families, and it’s fun to watch the children grow between sales. The baby who was still nursing a year ago is now walking, the middle child who was listening before is now reading on his own, and the older boy is now big enough to carry the boxes of books to the car without help. And another family will have a new book lover by this time next year.


It’s not just a book sale | by Linda Brendle

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.


The Problems Behind the Sale | by Linda Brendle

Somehow I’ve gotten behind and haven’t posted in almost two weeks. Time to play catch up! This article was published in the Rains County Leader October 28, 2021:

Last week I wrote about the amazing success of the Friends of the Library Book Sale and how smoothly it went. That was true, but the sale wasn’t without problems. Most of the problems landed in the lap of Cheryl Watson, our facilities coordinator – and me. Her responsibilities included picking up keys to the City Centre, opening and locking up, and coordinating the delivery and pick of books and equipment.

The plan was simple: Cheryl would pick up keys at the EDC office on Monday, Oct. 11. On Tuesday Jane Dillon would meet the Road and Bridge crew at the book shed by the Library to pick up books and equipment and Cheryl would open the Centre for volunteers to begin setting up. On Monday the 18th, Road and Bridge would pick up the equipment, unsold religious books which would be donated to Love Packages, and books reserved for Little Free Libraries, and Peter Adams of Gladewater Books would pick up remaining unsold books. Cheryl would return the keys to the EDC office, reserve the Centre for April, and the sale would be over. But there were problems.

#1 – Because of family illness, Cheryl wasn’t available until Saturday the week of the sale, but I stepped in. Problem solved.


Connections | by Linda Brendle

Connections | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 25, 2021:

Writing is all about communication – about sharing thoughts and ideas through the written word – and about the connections that are made through that sharing. A writer often doesn’t know when those connections happen, but one of my favorite parts of writing is when a reader reaches out through a review, a comment on a blog or Facebook post, or an email to let me know about a connection.

An early connection happened when I was just beginning to be active on social media. Facebook groups had not yet popped up, at least not in the numbers that exist now, so I contributed occasional articles to several independent websites. One article was about my anger as a caregiver. I admitted lashing out in frustration and anger at my Mom when I first began caring for her only to realize later that my anger, and the underlying fear, were really about the Alzheimer’s that was taking her away from me in a way I could neither understand nor control.

Shortly after the article went live, I received a comment from a young woman whose mother had suffered a fatal heart attack many years before when she was a teenager. The older daughter had driven them all to the hospital, and the teen was confused by her sister’s apparent anger at her mother. After the mother’s death, the sisters were not completely estranged, but they never talked about the situation, and their relationship had not been the same. After reading my article, the younger woman approached her sister, and they talked. After exploring their feelings and reactions on that night that had changed their lives so many years before, healing began and their relationship was restored. Although we exchanged a few more comments, we didn’t strike up a friendship. Still, those written words established a point of connection based our similar experiences.


Little Free Library | By Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 20, 2021:

Being President of the Friends of the Library has been a learning experience, and I’m still learning even though I’m almost half-way through my three-year term. Last week was doubly enlightening as I learned what actually goes into preparing for the Semi-Annual Book Sale and also all about Little Free Libraries.

Actually, the Book Sale lessons began early last year when Jane Dillon, who had been in charge of the FOL’s biggest fund raiser for ten years, announced that she was stepping down after the October, 2020 sale. I was involved in last year’s sale, but nothing shows how little you really know like acting as the go-to person when you don’t know where you’re going. After studying the detailed notes Jane had left, I attempted to coordinate communication, publicity, inventory, facility details, transportation of books from storage to venue, hospitality, the financial operation, and the sale itself. Thanks to Jane’s generous tutoring, advice, and hands-on assistance along with an amazing group of experienced and inexperienced volunteers, we had an extremely successful sale – and a lot of fun as well. One of the really fun parts was learning more about Little Free Libraries.

Before the Sale, Little Free Library was just another item on a Board meeting agenda. Someone else took care of any related issues, reported back with an “all’s well” kind of report and we moved on to the next item. But we’ve had several new members join us in the last few months, and they haven’t yet learned that I have no idea what I’m doing. When they have a question, they come to me, and since it’s difficult to gracefully dodge a direct question, I try to find an answer.


Unintended Consequences of Story Time | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 22, 2021:

One of the responsibilities of the President of the Friends of the Library is to submit a Year in Review Report to the Commissioners’ Court. My predecessor, Lyn Baldwin, made this submission in the form of an in-person PowerPoint slide presentation. Last year, because of COVID, I submitted the report for 2019 by email. It worked out well, and since I’m not much of a public speaker unless I’m talking about my books, I’ll probably do the same thing this year –assuming I can gather enough material.

2020 was the year of cancellations, and that included FOL plans. From April through September, FOL correspondence alternated between announcements of new plans and announcements of cancellations. I ended the year with a few photos of the October Book Sale, but not nearly enough for a presentation. So I made a plea for photos of any FOL or Library events. I heard the sound of crickets, but as usual, Library Director Wendy Byrd came through. She sent me pictures of the Tween Photo Contest display boards, Summer Reading winners, and little bitties enjoying story time early in the year. Her offering was more than enough for a decent PowerPoint and also for a bit of column inspiration.

Christian Piatt, my own son, was a great fan of Library Story Time. I was never sure which was the bigger attraction, the books or the children’s librarian who he planned to marry one day. Actually, he was a big fan of anything that involved words. He watched Sesame Street and the Electric Company, and he went to bed without a fight as long as I promised to read two stories and a poem.


Leftover books | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 26, 2020:

“By the time this column is published the remaining books will have been

The Problem of Too Many Books ~ The Imaginative Conservative

hauled away to be sold at Half-Price Books, but the Book Shed behind the Library won’t be empty.” This sentence was in the final paragraph of last week’s column in which I talked about some of the book lovers I met at the Friends of the Library Book Sale. Part of the sentence is true, but the other part – not so much. The book shed is far from empty, mainly because the new policy at Half-Price Books is to accept no more than two boxes at a time. FOL members aren’t easily discouraged when it comes to books, though, so a search began for alternative means of disposing of leftover books.

The first method employed the idea that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Several sets of books were put into open-topped boxes and set on the ground beside the library dumpster. The old saying proved true as all the books disappeared the first day, long before the truck came to collect the trash.


Book lovers of Rains County | By Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 20, 2020:

The Friends of the Library 2020 Book Sale has come and gone, and I’m exhausted. In fact, many of the more seasoned FOL members are exhausted

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after a week of setting up tables, unpacking and sorting thousands of books, displaying them, and repacking them. We’re all hoping that, by the time the next Book Sale rolls around, we’ll have some younger members who will step up and take over the forty-year tradition of saving gently used books from the dumpster. There are certainly plenty of book lovers in the area – I met many of them at the sale.

Some of them, like Gloria, are as mature as those of us FOL members who will be complaining of aching muscles and joints for the next week or so. She was in a wheel chair but was working her way through the large fiction section under her own power. I asked if I could help her find anything specific, and she said she was headed toward the Westerns. We chatted as she continued to peruse the novels, picking up one or two along the way. She said that, at eighty-six, one thing she really missed was talking with someone with whom she shared a history. When we reached the small selection of Louis L’Amour and Willam Johnstone books, she looked at each one, knowing she’d probably read them all more than once. Still, she picked up half a dozen and added them to the pile in her lap.

When her son came over and saw her choices, he said, “Mom, I have all those at home.” She knew that because he had inherited his father’s complete L’Amour collection, but she seemed to want to revisit the common history she shared with the characters in those books. She reluctantly put the Westerns back on the table and put her other choices into the almost full bag her son was carrying. As they headed toward the check-out table, I hoped he would pull out a few Louis L’Amour’s for her when they got home.

There were also younger book lovers who were shopping for others. One leaned over a round table filled with selections by a popular author, holding her cell phone in one hand and reading titles to someone on the other end. Another asked for help in finding titles by a specific author her friend really liked. And still another left the Religion table with a big smile and an armload of inspirational and devotional books she planned to give as Christmas gifts.

My favorite readers, though, were the children. One little boy found an empty box under a table, and he climbed into it to look at a book that had caught his eye. Another boy was holding a story book and, while his mother shopped, he was having a very animated, one-sided conversation. I went over and asked him what he had, and he proceeded to tell me all about it. Then he began to point at a book on another table. He couldn’t quite reach it, so I looked at his mother for permission. When she nodded, I handed him the book.

“Who is that?” I asked, pointing to the Muppet on the cover.

His excitement overcame his powers of speech, and he couldn’t get the name out. His mother came to his rescue. “You know who that is. It’s Elmo.”

His eyes grew wide when I said, “My daddy’s name was Elmer, and some people called him Elmo.” As I moved on to other duties, I thought about how books can bring us together in the most unexpected ways.

The absolute highlight of the children’s area came late on Friday afternoon. A young couple with four boys came in and headed for the children’s area. The baby began to fuss, and the mother found a quiet corner to feed him. The father moved over to some nearby tables that interested him, and the other three boys settled onto the floor with a couple of books. Two of them who looked to be between two and four, shared a book that was making noise of some sort. It looked as if the older one was explaining what was going on to the younger one.

The oldest boy was sitting a little apart from the other two with a book on his lap and a very serious look on his face. He looked up at me and said, “It says that there were over one hundred wagons, but there are only twenty-two in the picture.” He held the book up so I could see.

“Maybe they ran out of room to draw wagons,” I said. “Or look – there’s a hill over here. Maybe the other wagons are on the other side.” He nodded in agreement and went back to his reading. The family left shortly before closing time with a bag full of books.

Yes, I’m very tired, but I also feel very good about all the books we sent out the door to new homes – and about the money we raised to help fund programs and projects for the Rains County Public Library. By the time this column is published the remaining books will have been hauled away to be sold at Half-Price Books, but the Book Shed behind the Library won’t be empty. People are already dropping off books for the next sale. Hopefully by then we’ll have some younger, stronger FOL book lovers who can do the heavy lifting.



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

I love books | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 14, 2020:

I love books. There weren’t a lot of them around the house when I was little, but I loved the ones I had. Dr. Dan the Bandage Man, The Little Red Hen, and The Little Engine That Could were my favorites. We had a set of Book of Knowledge Encyclopedias, and while I wasn’t interested in the boring factual stuff, I discovered there were fables and fairy tales scattered among the pages. I spent many afternoons reading them over and over. During the summer, I went to the library as often as Mom would take me. I checked out stacks of books, continuing to read long after my Summer Book Club requirements were completed.

I was in the fifth grade the first time I bought a book of my own. Once a week we each received a publication called “The Weekly Reader,” and once a month it included a list of books we could order. My first purchase was The Red Pony by John Steinbeck for $.50. I enjoyed the story, but I knew there was more to it than I understood. For the next several years I read more Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Michener, some of them voluntarily and some of them assigned, but my taste still ran toward the recreational rather than the intellectual. When I discovered Agatha Christie, I was hooked. I love books, but I really love a good mystery. (more…)

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