Annual Menlo Park Library book fair takes place Sept. 17 and 18

by Matt Moynihan on September 14, 2011

Menlo Park library volunteers

Menlo Park Library’s Fall Book Fair takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Sponsored by the Friends of the Menlo Park Library, the Fair will be on the lawn at the main library, 800 Alma Avenue, near the intersection of Ravenswood Avenue and Laurel Street in Menlo Park.

The annual Book Fair, one of the largest and definitely the oldest of any library on the Peninsula, features over 30,000 volumes of gently-used books at bargain prices, startin at just 50 cents with most books are available for $2.00 and under. On Sunday, starting at 10:00 am, all books are offered at half price, and customers can purchase a bag from the Friends for just $5 and fill it to the brim with books on sale.

The wide selection at the Book Fair includes nonfiction and fiction, hardbacks, trade paperback and mass market. From prize-winning literature and poetry to cookbooks to biographies, there’s something for everyone. Parents looking for a way to stretch their budget and teachers wanting to add to their classroom’s resources can select from a broad assortment of children’s books, including hard cover picture books for younger children.

For collectors and other treasure hunters, there are about 400 volumes on sale at the Menlo Park Council Chambers, adjacent to the library lawn. According to Friends volunteer Jackie Drew: “These are specially selected books that include first editions, old books dating back to the 1800s, and books by well-known illustrators. Of note is a leather-bound set, One Hundred of the Greatest Books Ever Written from Easton Press. The books at the special sale are priced in the range of $5.00 to $25.00. A preview of these books will be displayed in the Menlo Park Library display windows in the lobby.”

The Book Fair is completely driven by a small group of dedicated volunteers, nicknamed “moles” (pictured). About 25 people work year-round to sort and select the books, but it takes more than 100 volunteers to run the fair. This year, City Council members and Library Commissioners will pitch in to display, cashier, and answer questions from customers.

“The Friends are fortunate and appreciative to have many community members help at the Book Fair each fall,” says Karen Zechnich, the Friends’ president. “Some have been volunteering for more than 20 years! We always welcome new volunteers whether at the annual Book Fair or on a weekly basis at the library.” To volunteer, please contact The Friends at (650)330-2521 or email mp.friends@yahoo.com.

All of the proceeds from the sale go to fund several programs at the Menlo Park Library. In 2010, the Book Fair raised over $25,000. “The funds that the Friends raise through the Book Fair supplement and enrich Menlo Park’s collections and programs.” says Library Director Susan Holmer. “The hugely popular Summer Reading Program prizes, performances and activities are all supported through the contributions of the Friends, so this year more than 850 kids and adults directly benefited from this gift by the Friends.”

Money raised at this event will also support the Project Read literacy programs, new books for the library’s collections, and special library equipment.

The Friends of the Menlo Park Library has been supporting the Menlo Park Library since 1952, when the first Book Fair took place. The volunteers work year-round, benefiting the Main and Belle Haven libraries through its sponsorships of library activities. Over the past 30 years, the Friends have raised over $2 million to support the library’s collections and services. In recent years, the Friends donated $100,000 to the major renovation of the Children’s Department, making a child’s first experience of the library warm and welcoming.

Those who can’t make it to the Book Fair but who want to buy books and support the library can find great bargain books everyday in the Friends Bookstore, which is restocked daily and located in the library lobby.

Photo by Linda Hubbard Gulker

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