National Library Week, April 7 – 13
There was a time when I scorned used books. The only books I wanted should be untouched by human hands,–except the ones which put them on shelves. Ideally, they should wear cotton gloves while doing so. No fingerprints. I’d go to book stores and check to make sure the books I wanted to buy have clean pages and that the book jackets have no creases or even the tiniest tear. I still do that. When I lay out money for something, I want it to be in the best possible condition.
I never scorned libraries, even when I brought home a book which reeked of someone else’s cigarette smoke. Libraries have always been my friends.
Wanting more books than I have money to spend helped end my snobbery. Who doesn’t love a bargain? By buying used books I can replace books which have been lost during moves or have come apart from poor biding and too much reading. Discovering treasures I never knew existed or out-of-print books that I couldn’t find elsewhere also put paid to my scorn of used books. That’s why I love Friends of the Library.
It seems as if every town in my state has a library with a permanent “Friends” corner, as well as regular used book sales. I’ve come to love the “corners” and the sales. I go at least once a year and take friends. One library in my area has patrons who take excellent care of their books and hand them on to other by donating to Friends of the Library. I have done so myself. I like that the money I spend helps support the library.
For the five books in the above photo, I probably spent no more than three bucks, if that. Jane Eyre–more than five hundred pages–cost thirty-five cents. Taming of the Shrew was fifty cents. The other three books have lost their tags. Sometimes at the sale you can buy as many books as you can fit into a bag–their bags or ones you bring–for a set price, maybe five dollars, maybe three dollars. Prices that are a steal to begin with go down during the last hours of the sale.
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving is a good example of the kind of treasure I’ve found at Friends of the Library sales. It looks like it’s never been read or read very carefully. The spine is uncreased. The pages are clean and they’re not bent at the corners. It’s beautifully illustrated. It was published in Granada, Spain. I love the texture of the cover and the creamy color or the paper.
I hope whatever town or state you live in has a Friends of the Library corner and regular used book sales. If they don’t, perhaps you could start one. Book lovers will adore you.