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Waccamaw Library: Power of print hasn’t faded for Friends group

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The books are tucked away in the closet at St. Paul’s Waccamaw United Methodist Church. Roz Breit estimated more than 7,000 books are held in the cardboard banker boxes; nonfiction sorted by subject, fiction sorted alphabetically by author. Enough books to fill seven or maybe eight Kindles.

E-books are cutting into the supply of print books for the Friends of the Waccamaw Library’s annual sale, particularly for popular fiction, said Breit, who has chaired the sale for eight years.

This is the 24th year for the sale and the last Breit will lead. It’s also the last sale at the Methodist Church. The Friends plan to hold the 25th annual sale in the new Waccamaw Library, now under construction just down the street from the church on Willbrook Boulevard.

A study for the Pew Research Center this year found the number of adults who read an e-book continues to grow. But it noted, “Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits.”

Print is also the foundation of fundraising for Friends of the Waccamaw Library, which takes in $10,000 to $12,000 a year from its summer book sale. The group collects books all year (it also has a smaller sale in December) and tries to keep ahead of the sorting. “It’s a 355-day-a-year job,” Breit said. “I always wanted to own a book store,” Breit added. “This cured me.”

Volunteers sorted and boxed the latest additions last week at the church. Cookbooks and history books are always a large part of the sale. This year was no exception. Among the more unusual donations was a collection of books on brewing beer. “We just find these things in the library,” where they are dropped off, Breit said.

The sale also includes CDs and DVDs. Those donations have been strong this year, said Chuck Bader, who was in charge of sorting that part of the collection. With streaming and electronic storage of music and video, the Friends may be getting the discs people no longer need, he said.

Among more than 400 CDs are about 40 sets of opera recordings. There are also audiobooks, which are a popular item, Bader said. The DVDS, about 200, include television series and documentaries.

The sale no longer takes audio or video cassettes, but it does take vinyl records. “They’re coming back,” Bader said, although he admitted he doesn’t have a way to play them to check the condition. The records sell for 25 cents. Some people buy them for the art on the jackets, he said.

The book sale is new to Kathy Diehl, who recently retired as a financial education consultant for the state Deferred Compensation Program. She was looking for a place to volunteer and was drawn to the library. She will replace Breit as the book sale chairwoman.

“I’m really excited about it,” Diehl said. “I feel, in the future, with e-books, we may find the marketing ideas change.”

Her background is in public relations and marketing. Her job with the state was to explain retirement plan options to government employees. Diehl is confident the Friends book sale will remain a popular feature on the literary landscape. “Most people in our area like to sit down with coffee and a paper,” she said.

If you go

What: Friends of the Waccamaw Library annual sale.

When: July 10, 6-8 p.m. for Friends members (memberships available at the door); July 11, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (Jane Spillane will sign “My Life With Mickey” 10 a.m.-noon); July 12, 9 a.m.-noon.

Where: St. Paul’s Waccamaw United Methodist Church.

How much: Hardcovers $3 or two for $5; trade paperbacks $1.50; traditional paperbacks 75 cents; CDs from $1; DVDs from $2.

Of note: Silent auction runs until 1 p.m. on July 11 on a wine tasting package that includes “The Art of Wine Tasting,” a class and “Taste of Wine” journal; a “Gone With the Wind” package containing a 1936 second printing and a 70th anniversary DVD of the film; and two books signed by the late Genevieve Peterkin, her memoir “Heaven is a Beautiful Place” and “Coming Through: Voice of a South Carolina Gullah Community” which she edited based on her mother’s WPA interviews in the 1930s with former slaves.

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