Worlds of Wonder and Portable Magic for Sale Cheap in Dexter

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." – Stephen King

And the sale of "portable magic," slightly used, has returned to Dexter.

As of October 2, the Friends of Dexter District Library has resumed its popular Used Book Sale held at the Library on the first Saturday of the month from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The book sales offer just about everything a regular book store does. All the genres are covered—picture books, kids' books, young adult, mystery/thriller, sci-fi, horror, romance, non-fiction, fiction, and much more. Prices range from two bits (25¢) to a simoleon ($1). Vintage or specialty books might set you back a deuce ($2).

Money raised from the book sales goes toward Friends of the Library enrichment programs such as the wildly popular summer reading program or fun events such as the Friday Night Movie series. The group has also helped fund more permanent projects such as the Library's terrace construction and new furniture.

Friends of the Dexter District Library have been supporting the Library since 1957, and the book sales are among their most significant efforts. It takes a surprising amount of effort and teamwork. Chair for Friends of the Library, Cortney Ophoff, lays it out:

"There is a lot of month-long behind-the-scenes work that goes into our sales. We currently have eight sorters who work on donations—five weekly sorters and three subject sorters (this is down significantly from before the pandemic when we had nine weekly sorters and four subject sorters)."

"Our weekly sorters come in on the same day every week to sort any donations that have come in since the previous day's sorter was there; they unbox these donations and get them onto the shelves for the upcoming sale or into boxes for further management. Our subject sorters are assigned to manage specific sections (youth/children's, mass-market paperbacks, and media, to be specific); they come in weekly to fine-tune the sorting and displaying in their assigned sections."

"They are all dedicated workers, and without them, our sale would not be what it is."

And that's just the sorting. More volunteers put out the yard signs around town advertising the sale. Four or five volunteers come in the day before to set up. Seven volunteers work three shifts on Saturday for the sale. The last shift cleans up. And then, the whole process begins again for the next month's sale.

Pre-pandemic, bibliophiles stopping into the book sale numbered around 300, raising on average $1,500. Like everything, the sales were discontinued. The deprivation was real. When the sales resumed on October 2, about 40 explorers of worlds unknown were waiting in line for the Library to open its doors. In the first two hours of the sale, over 200 readers browsed the collection, raising about $900. Not a bad start after such a long hiatus.

If you would like to give someone else some portable magic in the form of books and help the Library out in the process, you can drop your books off at the Library during open hours. If you have more than five boxes of books, contact the Friends of the Library via the Library's website.

Friends of the Library asks that you only bring books in good enough condition to be sold. Encyclopedias more than five years old are not eligible for resale. Trivial note: World Book Encyclopedia is the only A-Z print research source still being published today. I Googled it. Other items the Friends of the Library will pass on are magazines like National Geographic, abridged book editions, and (it seems like this shouldn't even have to be mentioned, but) moldy or otherwise damaged books.

So, mark your calendars or watch for the signs around town for the next sale. Then buckle up. As Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has Bran's sidekick, Jojen, say in A Dance with Dragons, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one."

Photo: Dexter District Library website

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