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What’s in a Friends Book Sale?

November 1, 2017

The scene is a bustling one: people come from all over the region to snap up bargains, discover new treasures, and stumble upon long-forgotten but much-loved volumes that stir fond memories.  For many years, the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries has sponsored a used book sale twice a year, which draws hundreds of shoppers and redistributes thousands of books.  The events represent hours of volunteer effort and the cooperation of an entire community.  Months earlier, librarians on campus strolled between their shelves, weeding out duplicate or unneeded texts.  Retired professors sighed as they looked at their sagging bookshelves and packed up some hardcovers in a box marked “FRIENDS.”  Families moving their belongings sorted through their books, making a pile to keep and a pile to give away.  Avid readers all over Madison and beyond, for reasons that are varied and personal, choose to let go of some of their cherished volumes.  These bookworms are reassured to know that their castoffs need not be doomed for the recycle bin, but will be given the opportunity to be appreciated by new owners.  The service of collecting unwanted books to offer them new life is the heart and soul behind a book sale.

Books that are sent to the Friends arrive at the Memorial Library daily.  They come in boxes, bags, and by the armload.  All of them are examined and sorted, categorized, and distributed to the location where they will be most valued.  Sometimes this is directly on to the UW-Madison Library shelves.  Occasionally they are sent to another organization in the area.  Most often the items are destined to land in the Friends Semiannual Book Sale, to have the chance to be loved again.  If you live in the Madison area, certainly are there are books in the sale that you have known, sitting alongside others that beckon to you.

Not only are the books recycled within the community, but the funds generated by the sales benefit Madison as well.  The Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries uses this income to elevate literacy and assist libraries in ways that are positive for everyone.  They love to organize events aimed at bringing members of the campus and the wider community into the UW-Madison Libraries. The Friends also support the libraries through grant programs designed to fund purchases and preservation needs that may not fall within the regular library budget. In addition, their dollars bring scholars to campus from around the world who are interested in delving into resources held by the UW-Madison Libraries, providing our city with visibility and prestige on a global level.

So when you look at that dusty book on your shelf and consider its future, might you think about donating it to the Friends?  It’s hard to adequately explain how this simple act can send rippling benefits out into our world.  Grab a book and make a ripple; or fill a box and create a wave!

Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries 2017 Fall Book Sale

Memorial Library, Room 116                                                     Wednesday, November 1

728 State Street                                                                         Preview Sale ($5 fee for Wed only)

Madison, Wisconsin                                                                  4:00 PM to 8:00 PM


Thursday & Friday, November 2 & 3                                        Saturday, November 4

Traditional Sale                                                                         $4-a-Bag Sale (grocery size bag)

10:30 AM to 7:00 PM                                                                 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM