Soon the Friends of the Library in Ithaca will open their doors at the Regina Lennox Building on 509 Esty St. and hold their annual October sale. The Friends said that there are 12,810 shelfs and 2.43 miles of books. This library sale will offer more than 250,000 items such as books, records, CDs, DVDs, puzzles and games. The children and young adult sections are also slated to have many “new” titles. 

The volunteers who sort and organize seem to be busier than ever and in fact donations have been heavy this time around.

“It looks like the book readers have been going through all their books and donating them,” said Kathy Weinberg, coordinator of the Friends of the Tompkins County Library. 

Recently the Ithaca Times interviewed Weinberg about the impending Friends of the Library Sale. 

Ithaca Times: For decades the library sale seems to have been a beacon for book readers and collectors from not just Ithaca, New York, but as far Canada and other parts of North America. How will this sale be different then past sales? What can you share about this October sale?

Kathy Weinburg: For this Fall Sale, we're breaking with some traditions and honoring others. We'll continue to offer great books, well-organized into about 80 different categories, at affordable prices. We'll continue to welcome shoppers on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, with a bonus Tuesday after the last weekend. We'll continue to have wonderful first editions, rare books, and gift items in our Collectors' Corner. And, with our patrons' help, we'll continue to do our best to raise money for the Tompkins County Public Library, other area libraries, and other community partners promoting literacy.

But a few things will be different because of our COVID-19 precautions. As we did for our Summer Sale, we'll limit attendance to just a fraction of our normal capacity so shoppers can socially distance, we'll strongly encourage people to stay away if they feel sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, and we'll require everyone to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose. We'll let folks use our shopping carts and library carts as they shop, which will make for easier shopping while encouraging social distancing. We'll have a 50-book limit on our first Saturday, so more people can get in to shop. 

Also, while we have always loved being a big draw for people all over the east, we are limiting our advertising to the local area to comply with health department requests not to encourage out-of-state attendance.  We're also making appointments for large volume shoppers, especially those from out-of-state, so we can separate them from local shoppers and also ensure they don't take up so much time in the store that local folks can't shop.

IT: Talk about how you will plan for patrons to enter the sale while keeping visitors safe and comfortable? And how will you handle social distancing during this library sale?

 KW: One of the main changes we've made for our patrons' safety — and, hopefully, their comfort — is to keep our huge garage doors open, while our big circulation fans draw air through the building. Having the front of the store open makes the building safer, brighter, and more inviting, and all the Book Sale volunteers have enjoyed having the building open while we accept donations and sort books to prepare for the Fall Sale. We hope the temperatures in October cooperate. If they don't, we hope our patrons will dress warmly and enjoy a more-wintry shopping experience (think of shopping for Christmas trees in the snow!). We picked open hours of 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. to try to maximize light and warmth.

We may be moving in the future to more online sign-ups, but we won't be implementing any such innovations for this Sale. That means we likely will have some fairly long lines. We're limiting first Saturday purchases to keep the line moving. We also may try to give patrons some light reading material (magazines!) while they wait, and perhaps a chance to buy books from a roving Book Sale cart. We can't promise anything, but remember that our lines are usually short, and moving faster, in the late afternoons.

IT: What will be the new days and times for this sale? And talk about the pricing – do you plan to keep the prices the same for visitors?

KW: The first weekend of the sale we're open Saturday through Monday, so Oct.17-19; our second weekend is Saturday through Monday, Oct. 24-26. For the last weekend, we're open Saturday, Oct. 31, through Tuesday, Nov. 3. For all those regular shopping days, we'll be open from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. We also have a special Senior Day on Wednesday, Oct. 28, with special hours, 10 a.m. through 2 p.m., and one free book with your purchase of equal or greater value.  

Our prices are still low. On the first weekend, hardback and "trade" paperback books, games and puzzles for adults, CDs and DVDs are all just $4.50. Mass market paperbacks, single LPs, children's hardcover books, puzzles and games for children, and other "Category B" items are $3, and children's soft-cover books, pamphlets, sheet music, periodicals and other "Category C" items are $1.50. We also must collect sales tax unless you're buying for a non-profit or for resale.  

We will keep those "first day" prices in effect for the whole first weekend. But just think what our attendance restrictions mean for your shopping experience! Fewer people will pass through our doors during the whole first weekend than we usually admit on our first Saturday. So you'll be getting "first Saturday" selection during the entire first weekend. And great selections will continue to be available through the end of the Sale, as fewer patrons will have shopped before you.

We hope to make the last weekend of the Sale very special. We'll start with special Halloween rules all day on Saturday, Oct. 31, where you can get a free book from the main warehouse with your purchase if you're in costume. Monday, Nov. 2, is Dime Day, where we charge only $0.10 for every item in the main warehouse, and Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Bag Day, where you can get all the books that fit in a regular reusable bag for $1.   

IT: Would you like to say anything more about this library sale?

KW: We're proud that our Tompkins County community gives us their support, year after year, and by doing so strongly supports our public libraries and literacy in our community. We're thrilled that community members are excited about shopping at the Book Sale, and we hope to give them great buys at great prices.

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