Readers donate a favorite and buy someone else’s

Book lovers from all over Sussex County and beyond get the chance to both donate and buy books during the Friends of the South Coastal Library’s Summer Book Sale.

The Friends of the South Coastal Library — a group of volunteers that organizes fundraisers for the facility — each summer organize a book sale to raise money for the library and its programs. The book sale this year will take place over a span of three days, Aug. 10-12, during the library’s regular hours.

The chair of the sale and the former president of the Friends of the South Coastal Library, Lois Rubinsohn, took over the event after former chairs Joe and Dorothy Lane retired. She gave the couple all of the credit when it came to the success of the sale.

“They willingly gave up their time and talent,” Rubinsohn said.

The Lanes, along with other volunteers, did everything free of charge, which Rubinsohn said was very meaningful, because the library would not be able to afford to pay employees to work the fundraisers.

The Lanes originally ran the event by themselves, for more than a decade. When Rubinsohn and coworker Terry Druiz took over, they decided that they needed to recruit a number of volunteers to help make operations run more smoothly. Rubinsohn said it takes about 80 volunteers to run the sale, doing jobs that include setting up the tables, organizing the books, manning the cash register and helping customers find what they’re looking for.

“We all believe in a team effort,” she added. “And it works.”

On top of the work that will be put into setting up and selling the books, Rubinsohn said it takes several months to plan the event. A committee met several times throughout the month of June to discuss this year’s sale, and they will meet again after the event to reflect on what went well and what didn’t.

Rubinsohn said that some of the most regular customers of the annual sale are retirees from the area. She said that Lower Sussex County, especially, has an extensive population of retired people who are very avid readers. The book sale has given them a chance to recycle the books they have read.

“It’s a constant circling there,” she said.

The sale has become big event amongst community members, said Rubinsohn. Books ranging from children’s books, to non-fiction to cookbooks have been available for purchase. She added that the most popular books over the years have been the children’s books, That section usually sells out first, she said, and, in addition to books, people can also purchase audio books on tape or disk.

“You name it — it’s a whole gamut of things you can read,” she said.

Each summer, people drop their used books off at the library, donating them for the sale.

The book sale has become an institution amongst the community surrounding the library. Rubinsohn said it has been a place where parents can buy affordable reads for their children and where book clubs can buy new material for their conversations. People go to the event because it not only benefits them directly but also aids an establishment that improves their lives and community, she said.

“It’s a celebratory atmosphere, to be honest,” Rubinsohn added.

Between their two book sales held each year, the Friends of the South Coastal Library have been able to raise about $12,000 annually. Rubinsohn said they have spent the money on new amenities for the library, which have come from a list written by the librarians. She added that the library has tried to fund as many programs as it can itself, and the two fundraisers that take place for the library — which include Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, in addition to the book sales — are the library’s main ways of obtaining funds.

“We know that the end results will benefit the community at large,” Rubinsohn said.