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Library book sale draws large, quiet crowd

SALISBURY — Few clearance sales are this quiet.
But these bargain hunters were not at a mall or big box store. They were methodically going through box after box of used books at the Rowan Public Library’s annual sale, so the hushed and studious approach seemed appropriate.
The sale, which offers books, audio books, children’s books, DVDs, CDs and cassette and VHS tapes for $2 or less, continues today and Monday at the library’s main branch at 201 W. Fisher St.
Robin Engel kept a large, green canvas tote bag at her feet and regularly dropped items into it, many for her niece. By 9:30 a.m. Friday, just 30 minutes after the book sale opened with 18 people waiting in line, Engel’s bag was nearly overflowing.
Even though Engel has a Kindle, she said she still loves books and specifically library books. She said she feels a connection with readers who have come before.
“Other people have read it, and you are experiencing the book with them,” Engel said. “And sometimes they leave ketchup on a page unfortunately, but it’s sharing a story.”
The library is selling an estimated 12,000 books to make room for new titles. Staff chooses the books and audiovisual materials to sell based on condition, how often the item is checked out and whether a new, more up-to-date edition has been published, such as manuals, said Edward Hirst, technical services supervisor.
The sale includes far fewer books this year because the library’s book budget is shrinking, he said. The budget dropped 5.6 percent from last year, when the library had $202,151 to buy books and audiovisuals.
This year, the library’s book budget is $190,775.
The state contributed $167,385 to the book budget, and the balance comes from revenue the library generates through late fees and replacement fees, said Marian Lytle, library services manager.
A budding artist, Chris Benton was looking for books to help him learn how to paint and found six titles that likely would have cost more than $100 if he’d bought them new.
Benton said he plans to come back Monday, when book lovers can fill a bag for $1, and buy books to replenish his 5-year-old daughter Xia’s library.
Armed with the Landis Elementary School PTA checkbook, Michelle Strong arrived with three huge plastic tubs to fill with children’s books for the school library.
The PTA has shopped the book sale for several years and raises money to pay for the purchases, which will include a selection of books to send home with students over the summer, Strong said.
Many families with students at Landis Elementary can’t afford to buy new books, she said.
“I’m just glad the library does this,” she said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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