Of Hurricane Irene and Friends of the Bethel Public Library

August 27, 2011 — Leave a comment

The impending arrival of Hurricane Irene made many of the good people of Fairfield County a little insane. I have watched Connecticut, the “land of steady habits”, develop a paranoid streak since the advent of 24/7 weather coverage. Media hyped hysteria ensues whenever a storm-summer or winter- approaches. So, there was no surprise in witnessing gridlock for the gas stations and deteriorating conditions in grocery aisles this weekend.

Instead of confronting the hysteria, I traveled to the Friends of the Bethel Public Library’s annual summer sale (August 27-29, 2011) where I found calm and order among the patrons quietly shopping for books, videos, records, DVDs and other media.

This sale was held in a large room in the municipal center across the street from the Bethel Public Library. I know the room as the “GP” room (general purpose) since I attended grades 7 & 8 in this building; I even performed on the stage which housed the young adult collection of books for sale!

The books were organized on tables by genres, and there were signs on each table that indicated genre. There were very few “misplaced” books; obviously the organizers know their titles.  The fiction tables were a mix of hardcover and trade copies, and they were not in any particular order. I was an early attendee of the sale, and there were several boxes of fiction trade books under the tables. I imagine the volunteers planned on filling in the tables with these books as the sale went on, and there were many volunteers already busy at work. These volunteers demonstrated a remarkable resistance to apocalyptic predictions of  weathermen; one even was quite confident that the sale would go on as scheduled on Sunday despite the predictions of tropical storm winds and steady rain.

Books for the Wamogo classroom libraries from the Bethel Library Book Sale

There were many good books at the sale that I can add to the classroom libraries. There were three new copies of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, a copy of Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris, and a copy of Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant for independent reading by juniors. There were also copies of books that we teach including:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Kite Runner by Khaled Houssani
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Our Town by Thornton Wilder

There were also five copies of classic story The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter which we use in our Native American unit in Grade 8. The coming of age story was published in 1953, and combines historical places and incidents centered in Northeastern Ohio in the 1750s. The book has been in continued use in middle school curriculum largely due to Richter’s ability to  portray the consequences of hostilities between the Native Americans and early European settlers of the American Midwest.

In little under 30 minutes, I picked up 72 books for $105.00; prices ranged from .50 -$2.00. The retail price at Amazon for the 15 books in the picture above would have been $158.38. My cost for these 15 books PLUS  57 other books was $105.00.

Community book sales provide an opportunity for a buyer to do a little cultural study on the reading habits of its residents. Obviously, Bethel residents enjoy fiction and the number of cookbooks was greater than the number of military history books. However, the biggest surprise was the number of tables dedicated to the genre of romance novels. I grew up in Bethel (on Grand Street from 1972-1980), and I would never have suspected that the town has developed such “passionate” interests!

I received a postcard to remind me of the upcoming sale, but I had already planned to attend since the sale was also listed on BookSaleFinder.com . Even Hurricane Irene could not stop the calm and dedicated volunteers of the Friends of the Bethel Public Library from succeeding in putting on a great sale with donated books.

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