Volunteers with the Friends of the South Coastal Library are used to big crowds at the group’s annual used book sale benefiting the library. Each year, between $4,000 and $5,000 in funding is generated by the sale of about 4,000 books donated by the public for the fundraiser, which is held twice each year — in summer and winter — raising about $9,000 annually for the non-profit volunteer organization and its efforts to support and improve the library.
But the 2007 summer edition of the sale, which was held between Thursday, Aug. 9, and Saturday, Aug. 11, set new records for enthusiasm, with eager book lovers lined up prior to the 10 a.m. start of sales on Thursday and flooding the library’s community room as soon as the doors were open.
“We had a line around the building at 10 a.m., when we opened,” FOSCL Capital Campaign Co-Chair Joan Thomas said. “We were mobbed.”
About 35 volunteers from FOSCL manned the sale, directing buyers into the sales area, keeping the books organized and taking in payment for the paperbacks, hardbacks and videos, which ranged in price from 50 cents to $1 each.
Anyone wanting a copy of “The DaVinci Code” was in luck, with at least seven copies available for purchase, along with other popular best-sellers of years past, a wide selection of cookbooks, and self-help and how-to books. Children’s books and popular videos were also for sale. Book sale Co-Chairman Joe Lane said the selection represented about six months’ worth of donations from the public.
Lane and his wife, Dot, the other co-chair of the book sale, organized the volunteers and kept everything running smoothly, even when high-profile visitors showed up Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), former governor of the state, arrived around 2 p.m. on Thursday, after the initial rush to tap the best selection. He visited with volunteers and those perusing the depleted stock of reading materials, discussing everything from their choice in books to how their vacations were going.
Book sale visitors took advantage of Carper’s visit to query him about issues of concern to them, including the safety of the Indian River Inlet Bridge, while FOSCL members and book sale organizers hoped to focus attention on the upcoming library expansion and efforts to raise the $2.6 million in funds that FOSCL has promised toward the $7 million project.
Carper recalled his own visits to the Delaware shore as a young man, noting the importance of the library to area residents and visitors alike. He was surprised to find that one of those perusing the book sale was a visitor from England who was spending the week after her daughter’s wedding in Bethany, where the wedding had taken place, while the happy couple was honeymooning in Hawaii.
Carper promised future visits to get better acquainted with the plans to expand the library from about 10,000 square feet to nearly 23,000 square feet.
After welcoming Carper with a Beach & Bay Cottage Tour tote bag – valued at less than $50, Carper inquired with a laugh and a nod to ethics reform on Capital Hill – Thomas also took time on Thursday to emphasize the importance to the capital campaign of major donations such as the $250,000 donation made by the Carl M. Freeman Foundation last Monday. The library’s new community center will be named after the late Joshua Freeman, in whose honor the donation was made.
FOSCL fundraisers are hoping that the Freeman donation will be just the first of many such major donations toward their $2.6 million goal, with naming opportunities abounding in the new library’s garden, data center, children’s area and more.
Nearly $1.4 million has been raised by the group to date, with the new annual Harvest Ball fundraiser kicking off the campaign last year and fundraising events held in conjunction with local restaurants having taken place throughout the summer, along with the annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour that was held last month. Individual donations and grants from local towns are also being counted on to help FOSCL reach their fundraising goal.
The library building in Bethany Beach is scheduled to close next month, as the physical work of building the expanded facility begins. Library operations, in a more limited manner, will continue at a temporary location in Millville, in the former location of Creative Concepts, starting in early October. The library will be closed for about a year before the enhanced facility is opened to the public.
That will have a direct impact on the second book sale FOSCL traditionally holds every year: there will be only one sale this year. Those wanting to have a crack at donated books will have to wait until at least mid-2008 before they’ll be able to take in the sale again.
Organizers of this August’s sale noted the change with a bittersweet tone, sad not to have another edition of their popular sale to help them raise funds in the interim but pleased that the long-awaited and much-anticipated expansion of the South Coastal Library is nearly at hand.
In the meantime, they will continue to raise funds for the library, with additional “library nights” at local restaurants and the second edition of the Harvest Ball set for Saturday, Oct. 13. Tickets for the black-tie-optional event cost $150 each or $1,000 for a table for eight. It will feature dinner, live music, and silent and live auctions.