The Menlo Park Library’s fall Book Fair, taking place this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16, at the Menlo Park Library from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, will feature over 30,000 volumes of gently used books at bargain prices. Sponsored by the Friends of the Menlo Park Library, the Book Fair will be on the library lawn at 800 Alma Avenue.
The annual Book Fair is one of the largest and definitely the oldest of any library on the Peninsula. Book prices start at just 50 cents, and most books are available for $2.00 and under. On Sunday, starting at 10:00 am., all books will be offered at half price, and customers can purchase a bag from the Friends for just $5 and fill it to the brim with books.
This is last Book Fair for long-time volunteer Jerry Stocker (pictured below right), who for 16 years has recruited and managed the paid workers. She’s moving from Menlo Park to Oregon. “Some one else will come forward to take my place,” she said earlier this week, as she directed the workers who were moving boxes of books from the library to the sale area.
For collectors and other treasure hunters, about 400 volumes will be on sale at the Menlo Park Council Chambers, adjacent to the library lawn. “These are specially selected books that include first editions, old books dating back to the 1800s, and books by well-known illustrators,” said Friends volunteer Jackie Drew, who took us downstairs where she stores these books in what she describes as “my vault” (pictured top). “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 is currently on display in the Menlo Park Library lobby (pictured below).
The biennial auction will also be held during this year’s Book Fair. The auction is both silent and live. Written bids may be made on Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The live auction begins at 2:00 pm. Among the items of special interest to be auctioned:
- 3 volumes of the Limited Editions Club Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid in slipcases.
- Charles Schulz’ Charlie Brown’s Christmas, 1965. Signed by the author.
- John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row 1945. 1st edition, 2nd printing before publication.
- An 1841 book, Sketches of the Fair Sex In All Parts of the World.
The wide selection at the Book Fair includes nonfiction and fiction, hardbacks, trade paperback and mass market as well as children’s books. All of the Book Fair volumes have been donated to the Friends of the Library, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to support the programs and collections of the Menlo Park Library.
The Book Fair is completely driven by a small group of dedicated volunteers. About 25 people (the Library Moles) 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.
In 2011, the Book Fair raised over $21,000. According to Library Director Susan Holmer, “The funds that the Friends raise through the Book Fair supplement and enrich Menlo Park’s collections and programs. The hugely popular Summer Reading Program prizes, performances and activities are all supported through the contributions of the Friends. So more than 850 kids and adults directly benefited from this gift by the Friends over the past year.”
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, benefitting 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. The volunteer group is actively seeking new members; information is available online.
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. A series of mini book sales take place in March, June and December, and there’s an online store as well.
Photos by Linda Hubbard