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Waccamaw Library: So many books, so little time as sale turns 25

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The library got bigger, but the book sale got a little smaller.

Not that the Friends of the Waccamaw Library have fewer books.

Not that they have less space.

What’s short is time.

“We have one week to get in and get out,” said Kathy Diehl, who chairs the sale this year.

This is the 25th anniversary of the book sale, started by the Friends before the first Waccamaw Library opened in June 1990. The opening of the new and expanded library in Willbrook this year means the branch will be the site of the sale for the first time. But being in the library means working with the library schedule.

The sale that was traditionally three days starting on the Thursday after the Fourth of July will now be two days, starting Monday with Friends night and opening to the general public on Tuesday. Volunteers won’t be able to set up the 24 tables and set out the thousands of donated books until the library children’s program wraps up Thursday. They’ll work through the holiday weekend to set up the sale.

The new location and the tighter time frame has created a buzz about this year’s sale, said Diehl, who has set a target of $10,000 for the fundraiser. The money goes to support the branch library and its programs.

This is also the first year that the Friends haven’t put out a call for book donations. They didn’t need to, Diehl said. There is a storeroom at= the library Friends Center filled with sale books. There is a storage unit at Pawleys Island with more books. “I got a call from someone with 18 boxes of books this spring,” Diehl said. “They knew it was coming and wanted to be part of it.”

Over a quarter of a century, the Friends have created a virtuous circle of people who buy books, donate them to the Friends and return to the book sale to buy more. Jane McColl of Charlotte was in the Friends Center with bags of books on Tuesday. She brought them over from her Litchfield Beach house like she does every summer.

The Friends Center has helped perpetuate that cycle year round, offering an ongoing sale of recent books. It will be open during the summer book sale, too.

Ann Howard was sorting books this week for the center and the sale. She’s been involved with the summer sale for 14 years. “You get less of the newer books because of the e-readers,” she said. “But people are still reading books.”

Many readers use the sale as an opportunity to stock up on books by authors whom they have just discovered, Howard said. It’s also a chance for book club members to fill out their reading lists, something she does herself.

Hardcover books sell for $2 each or 3 for $5. Paperbacks are 50 cents. Some oversize books go for more. The sale also includes DVDs, CDs and vinyl LPs, something that has become a retro favorite.

“We pride ourselves on offering high quality books that look brand new,” Diehl said. Some donations, such as out-of-date textbooks and volumes that can’t be cleaned up, are passed on to the Salvation Army.

Another hallmark of the sale is its organization. Non-fiction is sorted by topic; fiction by author. “We do try to make it easier for shopping purposes,” she said.

The Friends also hold a book sale before Christmas. Diehl is considering a third sale in February or March that will appeal to visiting “snow birds” who have returned North before the summer sale.

“This would still be our big sale,” she said as she prepared another box of books.

If you go

What: Friends of the Waccamaw Library summer sale

When: July 6, 6-8 p.m. for Friends members. (New members can sign up at the door.) July 7, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. for public

Where: Waccamaw Library, 41 St. Paul Pl. off Willbrook Boulevard

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