Friday, April 12, 2013

The library's selling stuff again -- go crazy!

Friends of the Library clustered yesterday afternoon at 5:55, forming a line 25 deep outside a once-empty store at 1330 Central Ave. It's always a good idea to be one of the FOTL, but especially so at the annual sale of donated books, CDs, DVDs and the like. You can shop before the general public, and you get free pastries, perhaps under the assumption that a sugar buzz will make people open their wallets wider.

The public sale (sans pastries) started today and runs through April 20, in a space next to Family Dollar in the shopping strip that holds Bistro La Bon. (Get details at Unlike last year's sale, where books were placed in separate rooms by category -- the most helpful way to do it -- all the books sit in one big rectangular space with signs hanging over tables; non-book items are in a separate room at the back of the main hall.

The trick to this sale is deciding how badly you want something, because prices drop in increments every few days. (On the last day, you can stuff a bag with anything it'll hold for $5. Volunteers don't want to tote items back to storage.) The CDs I didn't buy for $5 last night may be more appealing when they're $2 -- if they're still around, of course.

You need to keep three other things in mind:

1) You can't be impatient and find bargains. I had to look through every DVD to find one I truly wanted: a two-CD set that included Sean Connery's 1961 performance in a truncated Canadian Broadcasting Company "Macbeth." (He doesn't do justice to the role, but my curiosity was satisfied for $5. And Zoe Caldwell was a terrific Lady Macbeth.) Mysteries and classics and pop fiction and serious modern novels are all in a jumble at the book tables, so someone who reads mostly one genre really has to hunt.

2) As the Romans said, caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware. I bought a set of Beethoven symphonies for $10 but neglected to make sure all the discs were in there; when I got home, I had five of six CDs. (I'll listen to those, then donate them for next year's sale after writing "Disc 1 missing" on the box.) That's my own fault, really: I bought an empty CD case last year without looking and had to take it back, so I should have known better. You can't expect volunteers to check every CD they set out.

3) You have to go back more than once to see everything. Organizers put fresh items out during the sale, so you must return to canvass the whole collection. That suits me fine, as I like few things better than browsing through cheap tables full of cultural artifacts and finding unexpected gems. Say "hi" if I bump into you.