DENHAM SPRINGS — Avid readers, those who just enjoy being surrounded by shelves loaded down with books, and collectors of sometimes hard-to-find printed material had ample opportunity to acquire a variety of volumes for a more than reasonable price at the Friends of the Livingston Library System’s latest book sale held Saturday.
Thousands of books, neatly laid out on tables and shelves, greeted the several hundred devotees of the written word who visited the Walker-Denham Springs Branch of the parish’s library system for the book sale. Patrons could add to their book collections at a fraction of what the books would have cost if purchased new. The price of books at the sale ranged from a quarter to a dollar. Some books are even offered for free.
Browsers pursuing the rows of books could choose large, bound reference works and “coffee table” books for $1. Paperbacks and even some hardbacks went for a quarter or 50 cents. Also on sale, again at bargain prices, were videos, CDs and electronic books.
Elizabeth Coody, newly minted president of Friends of the Livingston Library System, said the group’s book sales, held about three times a year, serves multiple purposes. The sale raises money to support activities that cannot be funded through the Livingston Parish Library System’s regular financial stream, which is derived from taxes paid by parish residents.
“The money we make from the book sales is used for our summer reading programs, for special events that are held, and especially for our annual Livingston Parish Book Festival held every year at the main branch in Livingston,” Coody said.
The festival, usually held in November, draws large crowds each year. It features live music from the system’s special band humorously, and accurately, named the “Dewey Decibels,” tours of the library, an Author’s Corner where visitors can meet with local authors, informational and food booths and special activities.
Jamie Tairov, Friends of the Library treasurer, said that typical sales raise between $500 and $600. “The funds that we raise all go to a good cause, making our library system even better than what it already is,” she said.
A second purpose of the book sale is to afford area residents an opportunity to rid themselves of books that they no longer need. All books sold at the Friends group’s sales are donated by patrons; no books offered for sale are taken from the library system. Thus, the sale allows area residents the opportunity to recycle books while helping a worthy cause.
Members of Friends group volunteer to sort the books starting about a week before the sales day, which is always a Saturday. Volunteers unpack books that have been stored at the library, sort them by general content, and then neatly stack them on tables or the limited amount of shelving available in a room adjacent to the facility’s meeting room.
The volunteers share a common thread that connects them to their organization: they confess to a love of books and libraries.
“I first got involved in Friends of the Library because I was looking for something to do after retirement and I love books. … I like being with people who love books and appreciate the library,” Coody said. “Our organization needed a new president and because there were almost no limitations on my time, I agreed to be president. It’s an honor and it’s fun.”
Tairov, the wife of Livingston Parish Library Director Giovanni Tairov, said that she has always been a supporter of libraries. “I really became familiar with libraries during my time at LSU and wherever I have lived I have been involved with libraries. It’s something special for me,” she said.
Tairov’s son, Jonathon, a student at North Corbin Junior High and a member of the library’s Teen Advisory Board, said that while it was natural that he be drawn to libraries because of his parents’ involvement, added, “I would do this anyway even if my parents were not involved. I enjoy reading and just being part of the library.”
Another teenage volunteer, Paige Sprague, of the Teen Advisory Board and a sophomore at Walker High School, said she love books and the library.
“It was just natural that this is something I love to do,” Sprague said.
Sprague, Tairov and other young volunteers were busily restacking books during the sale.
Volunteers are at the heart of the Friends mission. Coody said that anyone interested in books and the library are invited to join the group. Applications for membership are available at all branches of the parish’s library system.
Book buyers were also enthusiastic about the book sales. Lona Fletcher, of Denham Springs, said that she enjoys the sales because they allow her to get books at a reasonable cost.
Her husband, Tolley, 91, said that he enjoys history books.
“I served in the Navy in World War II and saw action off North Africa and Normandy so I’m naturally interested in military history,” he said. “I always find books here that I know I will enjoy.”
Dallas Jenkins, of Denham Springs, said that while he enjoys reading, he also is a collector and that he sometimes finds special books he is looking for. “I come here for really good deals and I just enjoy looking around to see what’s available.” He left with a bag full of books he was interested in reading.
At the sales’ end on Saturday afternoon, the volunteers began packing up the books that had been on display and preparing them for storage in a room adjacent to the meeting room. The unsold books will remain in storage until the next sale, which will be held in several months at a date to be determined later.
In the meantime, Coody said, the Friends group welcomes donations of books. She said that those wishing to donate books can do so at any branch in the Livingston Parish library system. The donations are held until volunteers can collect them for the next event.
“We stay busy all year,” she said. “We meet on a regular basis and when it is time for a sale, we get together, lay out the books, and wait for our customers. We have been doing this for seven or eight years and we always look forward to the next sale. We will be here, waiting to serve all the people who love reading and books and the library as much as we do. We know we are serving a good cause and we can’t wait for our next opportunity to sell books to our great customers at our great prices.”