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Hard work prefaces book sale

It's like Black Friday for bookworms.

Every year, a line of bibliophiles snakes through the Civic Center as they wait to get into the Kanawha Public Library's annual used book sale.

"Some of them probably get there at 7 or earlier to get in line," sale coordinator Sandy Frercks said.

The annual used book sale, opening at 9 a.m. this Saturday, is one of the library's biggest fundraisers. It generated $42,000 last year alone.

Frercks said the event brought in about $30,000 in previous years. She attributed 2010's success to Margaret McGarrity, a part time library employee who works exclusively on the sale.

Before hiring McGarrity, library employees used their free time to organize books to be sold.

"She's able to be more selective and get out the best stuff we've got," Frercks said.

McGarrity also was able to sort through the stacks and pick out rare books for the "Collector's Corner," where book prices range from $5 to $100 and above.

That section includes rare and antique books, first-edition copies, books with author autographs and history books with regional angles.

Librarians regularly remove unpopular and out-of-date books from library stacks to make room for new materials.

"When new items come in and things are out of date, they'll weed them out," Frercks said.

Members of the public also donate unwanted books to the library.

Once a month, maintenance workers take boxes of books to the library's storage unit on Bigley Avenue, where the books are shrink-wrapped and placed on pallets.

She doesn't know how many books will be for sale this year, but there are more than 1,000 boxes and other materials in storage waiting to be set out.

Volunteers will start setting up at 9 a.m. Friday. They'll probably finish in four or five hours, Frercks said.

"It's quite an undertaking," she said. "It's amazing how quickly the volunteers set them out. They are dying to get those boxes open and get the books out."

Books are boxed by

category - romance, mystery, science fiction, cookbooks, crafts, history, religion, etc.

"Over 10 years, it's been perfected," Frercks said.

About 100 volunteers will help set up the sale, including a class of Job Corps students and several inmates on work release.

"For the muscle," Frercks explained.

At the end of the sale, the library invites nonprofit groups to browse leftover titles and haul them away for free. Goodwill and several jails have signed up.

"We chose to do that rather than recycle the books," she said.

The sale will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Adult hardbacks are $2, trade paperbacks are $1 and mass-market paperbacks will cost 50 cents each.

Hardback children's books cost $1 apiece, and children's paperbacks are 50 cents each.

For more information, visit

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or


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