MANSFIELD — Each month a crew of dedicated volunteers prepare for and manage a book sale in Mansfield that offers thousands of books to the public for a nominal fee.
They invest countless hours into ensuring the sale’s success, some of whom have been at it for years — that includes Libby Clever.
Clever, a Mansfield resident, said she’s been helping out with the sale since its inception over 30 years ago.
“I’ve back at this a long time,” Clever said. “I have a crew of workers. I guess you could say I’m the bookstore manager.”
Clever fell in love with the library at a young age. Her mother, Helen Ott, used to work as a librarian in Mansfield and later served on the library’s board of directors. A scholarship was created in Ott’s memory for local students interested in pursuing a degree in library or information science.
“I have been involved in one way or another with the library since I was a small child,” Clever said. “It means a lot to me.”
In 1982, Clever joined the Friends of the Library, a support group for the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library that provides financial assistance by supplementing the library's income in the purchase of specific equipment and materials for library use.
Book sales are the primary fundraiser for the FOL. Sales are held every month at the Friends' Evergreen Bookshop, located at 33 N. Walnut St. (corner of Third and Walnut streets).
Mary Frankenfield, deputy director of the MRCPL, said the library continually assesses its collection, weeding out those that are out of date, worn, or available in more copies than necessary.
“Rather than throwing them out, we donate them to the Friends of the Library, and then they host a book sale to raise money for projects that help the library or programming that they help the library with,” Frankenfield said.
One example of a program that's supported by the Friends is the Sunday music series.
“There’s a core of volunteers that help out with the book sale, and they are just the most dedicated people,” Frankenfield said. “They come in and unpack boxes and boxes of books, and they work very hard to make the book sale a nice event.”
Clever said she works with about 9 or 10 volunteers weekly in preparation of the sale.
“Some of those same people also help during the sale and then some people just work the sale,” she said.
Asked how much time she personally contributes to the sale, Clever said she doesn’t keep track, but typically devotes two to three days a week to it.
“There’s always something that needs done,” she said. “It’s a lot of work to prepare for a sale; I mean, we get thousands of books every month.”
Clever estimated that 80 percent of the sale’s stock is sourced from the library, while about 20 percent are donations from the public.
She said with each sale there’s new material.
“That’s what keeps it fresh. It’s never the same books that were there the month before,” she said.
There are seven rooms full of books spanning various genres and age-groups. Clever said most books cost between 50 cents and $1; children’s books cost 25 cents.
“It’s jaw-dropping to see all of them,” she said.
There are also CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, cassettes and records for sale.
“We try to give back to the community by offering a service that they might not have otherwise,” Clever said.
One of Clever’s favorite parts of the sale is watching as children beam with excitement as they clutch their books.
“The kids are what keep me going,” she said. “It’s nice to know that I’m maybe helping some of these kids learn to appreciate books and keep reading.”
Held monthly, sales are open to the public, with a preview day for Friends of the Library members on Thursday. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Friends, click here. To see a sale schedule, click here.