By Joseph Robertia
“Game of Thrones, “50 Shades of Gray,” Harry Potter. These and many, many, many more are among the books that may be available during the Friends of the Kenai Community Library’s annual book sale, Sept. 18 to 20 at the Home Gallery furniture and flooring store in the Kenai Mall (old Carrs Mall).
“We unpacked six pallets of books today and we still have many more to do,” said Kathy Heus, who chairs the book sale, last week while working to organize books by subject or genre.
Unlike the minisale at the library itself last month, this book sale will be five times that size and is too large to hold at the library, which is how it came to be held at the furniture store, in the former Sears location, at the Kenai Spur Highway location.
“We had to find a large-enough area and they were kind enough to give us space for a week,” Heus said.
With a planned 5,000 to 10,000 books for sale, space is dearly needed.
“We didn’t have one last year, so we knew we had to have one this year due to the volume of books we have now,” Heus said.
Lee Cassel, owner of Home Gallery, said he has helped with the book sale in years past by helping move boxes of books, and so he didn’t hesitate to offer up his store when the book sale needed a location.
“I wanted to help. It didn’t seem like a problem and I thought it could bring some foot traffic though the store,” he said.
The books being sold are titles being phased out of the library’s main collection, as well as books donated by the community in order to raise funds for the facility and its programs.
“Typically, hardbacks and large paperbacks are sold for $1, and trade paperbacks are sold for 50 cents, which is very reasonable pricing for what is available, which includes all types of fiction, thrillers and nonfiction, cookbooks — a little bit of everything,” Heus said.
From time to time a few literary gems or valuable books will show up in sale piles. This year volunteers have found several first-edition books dating back to 1882, 1895 and 1912.
“Some of them could be valuable,” said volunteer Jean Taylor. “And they’re all in good shape.”
The money raised will support a variety of equipment and events.
“Most recently we contributed to the automatic checkout system, but funds are also used for summer programming, hosting authors and other not-so everyday things,” Heus said.
While given a week of space for the sale, which volunteers will use to set up for three days, sell books for three days and then break everything down for one day, it has taken far longer to prepare for the sale due to the volume of materials.
“We’ve been sorting books for over a year, so that we wouldn’t have to do it all at one time, if that were even possible,” Heus said. “We have a good group of volunteers who have been sorting the pallets of books, and another cadre of 15 to 20 volunteers that will help with the sale itself.”
As to the reason Heus takes part in such a labor-intensive undertaking, she said as a former librarian she knows the value of providing books to the community, and in this area, the people who shop the sale seem grateful for the effort.
“The goal is to get as many books as we can out to people,” Heus said. “The community is very supportive of this. We have people asking us all the time when we’ll be holding it.”
Volunteer Carolyn Ostrander also was a former librarian, and as such said she too likes being around so many books for a few days each year.
“I love getting my hands on books again, and sorting them. It brings back a lot of memories,” she said.
Ostrander said the work isn’t just time-consuming, though, it’s also physically demanding.
“It’s a lot of loading the boxes into the truck, unloading them out of the truck, carrying them into the building, lifting boxes onto the tables to sort,” she said.
Most of the books will go during the sale, Heus said, and any that don’t still go on to take part in other sales for other entities.
“We donate them to other local book-selling organizations, so hopefully they can make use of them,” Heus said.