Inside a nondescript brick building on the corner of Marshall and 6th St., boxes of books line a long hallway. Claudia von Grunebaum, president of the Friends of Central Library, sits on the floor ripping open boxes and sorting books.
“We get 20,000 or 30,000 books,” she says. “I’m not sure. It’s a lot of books.”
The Friends of Central Library organizes this biennial book sale to raise money for the Central Public Library, which is currently closed for construction. Throughout the year, they collect donated unwanted or used books, CDs and magazine and then sell them for one or two dollars – or less. The fall book sale will last from Friday, Nov. 6 until Sunday, Nov. 8.
All of the money that the Friends group raises goes towards the library’s programming and building the collection, Grunebaum says. The group funds programs such as the summer reading programs for children, teens and adults and the special children’s performances. The last book sale in the spring raised over $5,000, according to Grunebaum.
“Anything that gets people into the library is a good thing,” says Amy Jordan, a program coordinator at the Sawtooth School for Visual Arts. “[The book sale] is a good way to keep people engaged with the library.”
As Grunebaum continues to methodically open boxes and sort books, volunteers bring in a cart full of more boxes of used books from the trunk of a car. They unload the boxes among the chaos of the hallway. The books themselves range from tattered to mint condition, poetry to tawdry romance. Several more volunteers steadily sort books into categories, onto the shelves, into the recycling or into the storage room in the back.
Susie Pollock is one of these volunteers. Pollock got involved with the book sale after she retired from her job at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in February.
“I needed a great cause, and I just love books,” Pollock said. “It’s nice to find people who are literally on the same page as you. These are all really wonderful, literate, intelligent, great people to be around. It’s fun to work together.”
Even though the book sale only happens twice a year, the Friends group collects donations through the year. Of all of the thousands of books that they receive, not all are fit to sell, Grunebaum says. Some are shabby and torn, and others have odd stains.
According to Grunebaum, almost all branches of the Forsyth County Libraries have book sales, but each one tends to have a different style. Some sell more romance novels, while others, such as the Central Library, sell more biographies, for example,
“People with different interests come to different sales,” she says. “Here, consistently, biography and memoir and history are very popular. We do not sell romance. There’s just not enough interest.”
In addition to the biennial book sales, the Friends of Central Library also host a gift wrapping fundraising at Barnes and Nobles in December. While it’s free to have your book wrapped, Grunebaum says that most people usually make a donation.
The Central Library, located on Fifth St., is currently closed for renovations. With a $28 million budget, the renovations aim to create a “strong architectural statement for the exterior, reliable wireless throughout the building and flexible space,” according to an article published in the Winston-Salem Journal in October 2013.
Grunebaum and the rest of her team eagerly await the day when the library will reopen.