Nearly 100 people were in line Friday morning, waiting for the start of the three-day used book sale at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library.
“They are very popular,” said Alex Gutelius, library director, and sure enough, the library’s large parking lot was filled throughout the day.
The Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library prepare for the book sales for months and hold them on the second floor of the modern, 6-year-old library on Moe Road. This weekend’s book sale is one of three major sales each year, along with two smaller sales held on Valentine’s Day and the day the library holds its budget vote in September.
“They have grown,” Gutelius said about the book sales. She added that the Friends have improved the way they collect the books and stage the sales.
Ann Christoffel, president-elect of the Friends, said 15 to 20 volunteers work all year long, sorting books donated to the library and arranging them by author and theme. During the sale, 30 volunteers work the three days in shifts. The volunteer organization has 400 active members.
“Sunday is the bag sale,” Christoffel said, where library patrons can fill a Hannaford bag, which the volunteers provide, with books for just $3.
Despite the Internet and digital e-books, people are still reading traditional books. Gutelius said borrowing of books and other materials, such as compact discs, has grown 8 percent this year at the library. In recent years, this increase in circulation has averaged about 10 percent annually.
The same trend can be seen at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, which had its busiest summer ever and a record-setting July, with 870,912 items borrowed, said library director Ike Pulver.
Libraries throughout the region hold used book sales. For example, at the Whitney Book Corner in Schenectady, Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library sell used books on a daily basis, as well as special sales. In December, the store will be selling new children’s books for $2 to $4. “Every year, we increase our sales. We sell lots of books,” said Marian Clowe, a Friends volunteer.
In Saratoga, Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library sell used books daily at the library’s Book Bag Shop on the first floor.
What happens to books that aren’t sold? Christoffel said when a used book goes through two consecutive sales without being purchased, it is donated to various organizations or discarded.
“That way we know we always have a fresh inventory,” Christoffel said.
She said book dealers often attend the sales and purchase books for their shops. Nonprofit organizations, such as senior centers, also purchase quantities of used books for their establishments. Teachers often come in and buy books for their classrooms, too.
“Every day of the year, the donation cart and bin are full,” said Gutelius. “The supply [of used books] is excellent,” she said.