Gargantuan library sale hosts more than 50,000 pieces of media

Published 12:06 am Sunday, May 1, 2022

SALISBURY — There are a lot of books in West End Plaza.

On Friday, the event center in the former mall was filled with tables, which were covered end to end with boxes full of books, but there are so many books in the center there are boxes running end-to-end stashed underneath the tables as well. There are also audio books, DVD and other physical media shacked up in the center through Monday.

There are about 3,000 boxes full of about 45,000 books. Adding in the other media, there are more than 50,000 titles there on sale as part of Rowan Public Library’s Bookpalooza. This is a unique, one-off event because of the sheer number of books the library is offloading.

For the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the library has not held its annual sale of titles weeded out from its regular stacks. This time around the 2020, 2021 and 2022 sales have been rolled into one gargantuan sale.

Rowan Public Library Director Melissa Oleen said the sale would normally take place at the Salisbury branch, but this year was different. There are so many books, the library could not fit the sale in the branch. It took a moving company more than a day to get the books moved into West End Plaza. A sale would normally generate about $4,000 for the library but for this sale the goal is more than $10,000.

“This is highly unusual,” Oleen said.

She said staff worked on the collection throughout the year. They look for material that is not circulating because interest in the topics has faded, or their contents are outdated like old science books.

“A public library collection is current, popular material, so we have a pretty high turnover,” Oleen said.

Hardcover books are on sale for $2. Large format paperbacks are going for $1. Small paperbacks are 50 cents. There are steep discounts running on the sale as well. On Saturday and Sunday, the library is giving educators and students half off everything.

On Sunday, seniors, county employees and veterans get half off everything and on Monday the library is offering boxes and bags full of books at low prices.

This year, there is also a discount wheel, spun every hour to apply another discount to all the books.

She said the library would run out of space if it could not clear out old material.

“People like to donate their own books to us and we had to quit accepting them because we didn’t have the space,” Oleen said.

The sale opened Friday evening for Friends of RPL members members only.

Anything not sold during the sale will be recycled or discarded.

“If it hasn’t sold after four days of Bookpalooza, with all our discounts, it’s just not going to,” Oleen said.

She pointed out there are more reasons to get books other than an interest in their contents. They can be turned into ornaments, turned into arts and crafts or placed on a bookshelf curated for its aesthetics rather than its title selection.

“I’ll sell you a box for a few bucks,” Oleen said.

All the money for the sale goes to library programs like staff development and summer reading.

Lisa Montag-Siegel was at the opening sale on Friday. She said she has supported the library since she moved here in the 1990s and was a school librarian at local schools.

She came to the sale looking for books for herself and her three grandsons.

Montag-Siegel picked up a biography of George Orwell, a book about regrettable superheroes and a book about famous women.

She said she sees the sale as another way to support a library good things in the community and this was the largest sale she has seen of the kind.

“This is extraordinarily large, and they’ve got a really, really nice space,” she said.

The sale runs 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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