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Giant Book Sale vast treasure trove

I came away with two knitting books, four cookbooks, three novels, a stack of Harry Potters (for a friend, I swear), five classic movies and two delightfully outdated Emily Post etiquette books. That’s all, unless I’ve forgotten a book or two I picked up while volunteering.
I always shop at the Friends of the Guelph Public Library’s annual Giant Used Book Sale fundraiser, but this year I decided to pitch in behind the scenes, joining the sale’s army of volunteers.
I will admit I had an ulterior motive for taking part, and I suspect I was not the only one.
I knew that volunteers got first dibs, and this year, for the first time, early birds were going to be charged an entry fee. It was just $10 too much for me on my reporter’s salary.
Instead, I pictured myself volunteering to help sort through boxes of donations, coming across wonderful gems and squirrelling them away for myself before they ever reached the sale tables.
Other volunteers must have shared this idea, because there was no shortage of volunteer labour. On several occasions, the Friends had to cancel sorting days and were worried that there were fewer donations than last year. But the reality was they had nearly twice as many volunteers, and many hands really do make light work.
Unfortunately, my wonderful vision didn’t exactly materialize. More often than not, I opened a box full of duds – books on alien conspiracy theories; books on German history, written in German; outdated travel guides; or books on physics or geology.
But while to me these were duds, to someone else they were treasures. I greeted people as they came into the building on Massey Road on Saturday, and at least one person was looking for the physics section.
I realized that part of the beauty of this sale is that you don’t necessarily need to be at the front of the line to find a treasure. Books that excite one reader do not necessarily interest another.
But whatever you wanted, you would likely have been able to find it at this sale, not just because of the volume of items, but because they were so well sorted. Many former librarians helped out, and many hours went into putting things where buyers could find them.
In the end, I think I bought fewer books than I have in previous years, but I don’t think it hurt the sale’s bottom line. The Friends easily raised more than $60,000 this year – the most in the sale’s six-year history. And that early-bird fee was no deterrent. They expected around 40 people would be willing to pay it; around 150 shelled out. And people still lined up to get in free later that night.
Over the weekend, thousands of people came out – some to support the cause of a new main library, many just keen on a bargain. With the future of the building uncertain, there is no guarantee the sale will happen at the same location next year, but I’m confident the sale will happen. The volunteers and the community love it too much.

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