Over 100,000 books were on sale during the weekend of March 15 at the Macon Centreplex as part of the Friends of the Library Old Book Sale. People from all over the country came to the 44th annual sale, whose proceeds go to support Macon and Bibb County libraries. Admission and parking was free.
According to their website, Friends of the Library began with 12 members in 1966. Since then, they have been able to donate over one million dollars to the Macon-Bibb County libraries.
The first Old Book Sale raised $1,600 and took place in 1968 at the Westgate Mall, said Friends of the Library President Andy Newton. This year, however, the Friends were able to raise over $90,000.
In recent years past, the sale took place at Central City Park. The move to the Centreplex was due to the condemnation of one of the park’s buildings.
Newton said Friends of the Library currently have about 400 members, 40 of whom work diligently all year in order to organize the sale. “During the Sale, we utilize almost 200 volunteers,” said Newton.
Mary McDonell, a Friends of the Library board member, said the Friends do not keep track of how many people attend the sale. “Many of our patrons will be here three and four times,” said McDonell, explaining that this makes keeping track of numbers difficult.
Individuals donated books by dropping them off at Washington Memorial Library and other Bibb County library branches. The Friends collected books all year in anticipation of the Sale.
Friends volunteer Lydia Sutherland said her mother donated around 500 books from her personal library.
There were books of almost every genre at the sale. Some of the 75 categories included old and quaint, children’s books, religion, text books, art, foreign language, romance and literature.
Mercer student John Maddox attended the sale on March 16. “I got a bartender’s book, I got an introduction to American poetry, introduction to great books and a book about John Lennon,” Maddox said.
Maddox said the sale had a lot to offer, with a diverse selection that was well organized.
On Wednesday before the sale began, the Friends held a Preview Party where members could purchase books before the crowds came. Book buyers also came to the preview, said McDonell, but everyone was limited as to the number of books they could buy.
Most of the books cost between 50 cents and $10. Biochemistry major Bentley Hudgins bought a handbook on physics and chemistry.
“It was priceless. It was six bucks. That thing is worth 100 something bucks,” said Hudgins.
The best part about the sale, according to Hudgins, was the selection of old antique books not easily found at a normal bookstore.
Books were not the only thing on sale at the Centreplex. There was also a large selection of CDs and movies.
Proceeds from past Old Book Sales have gone toward new books, furniture, large print books, books on tape and the preservation of old and rare documents, according to the Friends of the Library website. Proceeds over the last five years have also helped provide puppet theaters, puppets, books and more for local libraries’ children’s sections.
Friends of the Library also donate money and books directly to local libraries, and is involved in developing programs designed to promote reading.