October 12, 2011

How to sneak the best stuff at the library

I've been learning lots of valuable things ever since I started volunteering at the library; categorizing books is not as easy as one might think! But that's not what I'm here for, actually. I thought it could be a good idea to give you some useful tips to spot the best material at the library sale area (based on mi little experience here in Southern California) ;). As far as I know, most (if not all) libraries here in the States have a section where they put up discharged and donated books for sale. They also have special sales throughout the year where there's even more material that is sold at amazingly low prices (in the one I'm volunteering, this special sale is held on a yearly basis, by the end of October). I've never checked if they do the same in Argentina, but I'm pretty sure they do; I mean, they have to get rid of material at some point.

I highly recommend you check your local library before you go to the book store for several reasons: 

a. books are way cheaper there! This is our price list in Ontario, Ca: - paperbacks 50c, - children books 50c, - hardbacks $1, - oversized harbacks $2, - videos $1, - hardbacks up to 1999 50c, - magazines 25c each or 5 for $1, - books on tape $1 the set, -puzzles $1, - calendars and maps for free.

b. The money raised goes back to the library and the public. It is usually allocated to organizing book signings, carnivals, improving the venue, etc.

Can you believe I bought the latest issues of Lucky, Teen Vogue and Time, all for just a buck today? :p These magazines are still in newsstands for around $3 each!

So, here are some useful tips!

* If you're looking for fiction I'd say you have high chances of finding the book you want. In the library I'm in, there are plenty of books that have been released this year; but I can't tell if that's the case in other places as well.

* If you're looking for non-fiction, you have to be open-minded and patient. It may take some time to go through these books because they're generally not sorted alphabetically; some libraries do not even split non-fiction books into different categories. Your chances of finding one title in particular are not so high, but if you go for topics instead of titles, you'll have a higher chance of leaving the place with a smile.

* Try your luck in a small library first, you're more likely to find what you want and at a lower price.

*  Bring change: $1 bills, quarters and dimes. Some libraries don't have a cashier and rely on a honor system, so you can't have change back.

* Bring plastic bags; the library might not be able to give you one.

* If you love vintage books, you'll find plenty in the children area. We usually have many vintage cookbooks and fashion magazines and leaflets, too.

* Always be prepared to buy more things than you intend to. Sometimes you run into unexpected material you'd like to have; if you do, I say go for it! Chances are it's not going to wait for you until the next time you go.

*  If you become acquainted with the volunteers/staff, ask them if they can let you in the warehouse. You'll be able to browse through the whole inventory. Some places charge a little more per book in this case, though.

* Find out when there's going to be an annual sale. We save the really great books such as first editions and signed books for this event. Why? We can charge different prices and there's a cashier to control customers pay for what they take. We also get rid of  everything else that is donated to the library such as calculators, frames, albums, toys, you-name-it.

* Last but not least, do not rely on the library's website; go in person and ask its staff about the book sale area. Ontario's library is so not popular that it doesn't advertise its activities anywhere :/. If I didn't volunteer there, I wouldn't know about all the courses they offer for free! There are English, crocheting and driving classes, just to name a few.

Hope these tips come in handy! ;)

Happy midweek, everyone! 


Courtney said...

This is such a great post Miki! You packed it with a ton of crazy good info. I've never thought to buy books at the library. So helpful girl! Thank you!

Carrie said...

this is very helpful at our library we have two sales a year I think its 3 dollars a bag as many books as you can pack in and when we get donations we rarely keep any of the paperbooks they go straight to the book store so you can really get some good stuff cheap!

Jenna (SewSavoirFaire) said...

Really great tips Miki! In the past when I've gone to libraries here in Jacksonville I've been SO overwhelmed by the amount of books during their annual sales. I just sort of threw in the towel on going but I'm going to for sure take your tips into consideration and try to find myself a sale that's probably going on soon! :)

vero mariani said...

muy buenos tips miki!

Isabel, Wake up & smell the azahar said...

I always try to go to the library without a particular idea of what I want, because it's difficult to find. I try to go, browse & choose the first who catch my eye.