Last Saturday’s library book sale was postponed to this coming Friday. The sale now will be a Friday-Saturday sale, instead of a two-Saturday sale. The postponement was necessitated by the strong chance of rain forecast for Saturday.
Perhaps you chanced to look out your window at 10 a.m. Saturday, saw no rain and scoffed at the book sale having been postponed. If so, you probably were not up two hours earlier. That’s when the set-up for the outside sale would have been happening. At that earlier time, the skies were not just overcast. There was a mist in the air, with occasional drops of rain. The mist and raindrops would have damaged and perhaps ruined the books. Postponement was a good decision.
By happenstance, I drove by the library a few minutes before ten. To my surprise, I saw people waiting outside the library. At first I thought they assumed the library would be open, and would surely be disappointed that it is not yet again open on Saturdays. I parked and walked back to inform them of that. Then their real reason for being there struck me. They had not heard of the postponement! They were waiting for the door to open, for an inside sale in the meeting room. Thus they also did not know that, because of the risk of contagion by Covid-19 in the meeting room, the sale would be an outdoor sale. I talked with them about the postponement, and the need for an outside sale. With my good deed done, I began walking towards my car, only to notice other cars arrive, and people get out. I resigned myself to returning, at least until 10:15, and telling everyone who arrived about the postponement. Everyone took it in stride, once they knew that the sale would have been outdoors, due to Covid-19. I felt especially sorry for a couple who had driven in from out in the country, and who will now probably miss the opening day of sale, due to their weekly employment.
The decision to postpone was an especially fortunate one, because of another reason that no Friends of the Library volunteer could have foreseen. As I sat in front of the library I sensed, by sight and smell, a mist of miasma hanging in the air. I soon saw the cause. Across the street, and up toward Court Avenue, the upper parts above its roofs of the old building across the street were being pressure washed. The mist was drifting directly from there. It had the offensive smell. The mist was thus carrying part of the dirt, grime, and whatever being pressure washed away. With that realization I was very, very glad that the books for sale were not being damaged by what was floating in the air. And I was doubly glad that book sale patrons were not breathing, for an extended time, what I was then breathing. I quickly got farther away from the miasma. I was greatly relieved when 10:15 arrived, and I could in good conscience scram.
BOOK SALE AT CARNEGIE MEMORIES
On Thursday, I decided to include here, today, a memory I have of one of the outdoor sales held for years on the library lawn when it occupied the Carnegie library building. Later in the day, I asked one of our librarians about those sales.
On the day of one annual fall book sale, I arrived early, to be among those who had first crack at finding the bargains and treasures that would surely be there. There were, of course, other early birds as well. The sky was overcast. It looked like rain would come any moment. As I recall my dim memories of the day, the tables, a lot of them, were out on the lawn. Minus books, minus anything. The Boy Scouts had not yet arrived with the books, which had to be brought in from their place of storage. No more than a small fraction of the books could be stored at Carnegie. Suspense built as those present envisioned no sale, due to the rain threat, or some failure on the part of the Scouts. The day was saved when the Scouts, en masse, arrived with the books. As I recall it, the Scouts quickly put the books, completely unsorted, upon the tables. There was no interference from even one impatient buyer. The rain held off. Not a drop fell. It took a long time to look at every book on every table, and then to look again for what I had missed. I did find more. I left tired (even that many years ago my legs were bothering me a lot), with a whole lot of books. It was a successful day as well for of the sale of donated books.
Time marches on relentlessly. Each year it strikes from our midst citizens who attended book sales at Carnegie. Someday none will remain, add in those who move each year and those who attended but do not remember any details. Today there are only a few people who recall any specifics of the book sales at Carnegie. Imagine my surprise, then, when I looked at a certain plaque in our library, and found that we have two, yes two, current librarians who were librarians at the Carnegie building. One of them, Tonja Porter, was working that very day, Thursday.
I had to keep my conversation with Tonja very brief. She had other duties. I had another task to do as well. She recalls that, year after year, the Boy Scouts brought the books from the places where they had been stored. There were a whole lot of places the books were stored. All over town. Wherever someone kindly donated a little bit of space for the storage. Only a few of the books were stored in Carnegie’s basement. She recalls that those books were gotten outside Carnegie in a unique way. A basement window was removed, and the books, in boxes, were shoved out the window to someone who took the boxes. It was a whole lot easier and faster than carrying the heavy boxes upstairs, and outside. Tonja also remembers that there was always a risk of rain. She wasn’t certain of this when I caught her, by surprise, but she thinks there was at least once, while she was a librarian at Carnegie, that the books had to be covered with tarps, with buyers peering under the tarps to see what was there. The thing that she most remembers, though, is the very large amount of work that a sale in the yard took for her, as a librarian, and for everyone else who was involved.
Of course I soon informed David Hargrove, the Library Director, of my plan to include today my own memories of one of the Carnegie book sales. He took me by surprise with a suggestion. Research our newspapers for a complete history of the book sales, and report on them, especially on the very first sale, surely held many long years ago. I quickly rejected that suggestion. There wouldn’t nearly be enough space. It was a whole lot of work that I didn’t want. I had other plans for Thursday and Friday. Etc. Within ten minutes, I was glued to a computer, researching exact phrase “book sale”, year by year by year. There were some real surprises. There was a lot of information about library book sales, as well as about a wide variety of other book sales.
It was an incredible amount of intense, too intense work. And it got done. Barely. I’ll check with various people about the best way to make what I found available at the library, and to the public, although it may not be through Long Ago, Yesteryear and Now.