Friends of the Library Book Sale

In the time of COVID-19 much has changed and this seems true for all of Ithaca, New York.  At least the iconic Friends of the Library Sale with the approval of the board of directors for the Friends of the Tompkins County Library will have their library sale this July. There will be 10 days for those to select any number of books, records, CDs, movies, magazines, children’s books and maps. In addition, there will be the Collectors Corner area for people to look at rarer books and other collectibles. People who want to attend the first Saturday sale must come to the building at 509 Esty St. on Friday, July 3 from 6-8 p.m. in order to pick up a number if they want to be allowed in first on Saturday, July 4. They must have photo ID to sign up for a number and the next day to enter the sale as well. 

In this interview Kathy Weinberg, coordinator of the Friends of the Tompkins County Library answers questions about what will be different in this upcoming library sale.  

Ithaca Times: When the Governor ordered a closing of all non-essential businesses, the required closing was a hardship for many in upstate New York. What was that process like for the Friends of the Library (FOL) to cancel the annual May library sale? 

Kathy Weinberg: We closed our warehouse, the Regina Lennox Book Sale Building, before the state-mandated closing. We didn't cancel the Spring Sale, though. Instead, we took a wait-and-see approach and simply postponed the Spring Sale. So as soon as the Southern Tier entered Phase 2 and retail businesses have been allowed to reopen with limited customers, we started planning a Summer Sale, which will start on July 4.

IT: Talk about the Phase 2 opening process, and what has been the response from the local community for FOL? And have you been receiving many new donations for this sale?

KW: As soon as the Southern Tier entered Phase 2, we began setting dates and new procedures for a delayed spring sale (now a summer sale!), and completing the process of readying our shelves for the sale. We are very excited to be opening for a summer sale that will run over three long weekends, Saturday through Monday, beginning July 4.  

We also immediately reopened for donations. As always, the community has responded enthusiastically, and we've had a great many donations at our drive-up operation. These donations are being boxed and stored for our Fall Sale. We accepted donations only through June 20. We'll resume accepting donations on Aug. 1. 

IT: Will this library sale be different compared to previous library sales of the past? And will this sale be as long as it has been in past years? Will the pricing stay the same, and how will you handle the social distancing in the building? 

KW: Almost everything will be different compared to previous sales! Two important things will stay the same: we are selling a lot of great books, and we're trying to raise money for the Tompkins County Public Library, which has already been hit by funding cuts.  

We will be welcoming customers from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. on July 4-6, July 11-13, and July 18-21. So that is three long weekends (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) with an extra day (Bag Day) on the final Tuesday, July 21, which is as many shopping days as we usually offer. Our pricing structure has been changed for this sale, so please consult our website,, for the new prices. We will have special hours for seniors (60 and over) and people with disabilities on Monday, July 13 from 11-2 p.m.  

Those who want to attend early on the first Saturday, July 4, should come by our building at 509 Esty St. on Friday night, July 3, between 6 and 8, to get a number. Those with numbers will be let in first on Saturday morning. Please show your photo ID as you sign up and as you enter the Sale, as we will allow only the individuals who signed up to enter. 

We are serious about COVID-19 precautions. First, while Phase 2 rules would permit us to admit 125 people, we are limiting admission to 50 shoppers at a time. As people leave, more will be permitted to enter. We will mark 6' portions of our aisles and ask that people limit themselves to one shopper (or party) per 6' segment. Masks will be required for customers and our volunteer staff. We have re-organized our checkout layout to limit staff interaction with customers, and we'll be asking customers to keep their Category A, B, and C purchases separate for easy counting at check-out. We'll be cleaning and disinfecting every day before shoppers enter, and we'll be cleaning and disinfecting the check-out areas and restrooms during the day. And - very important - we'll be asking all customers NOT to shop with us if they are sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. 

As we're allowing only 50 customers at a time in the building, we may have a line. We are hoping to have a live "line cam" feed posted on our Facebook site; we encourage you to check FB (or call) rather than waiting in line. 

IT: What are your hopes for this library sale? 

KW: We hope to raise money for the Library, encourage everyone to read, and provide a safe environment to shop, while minimizing the risk of infection to our volunteers and customers. 

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