A Good Year for Book Sales

June 1, 2022 By by Abby Winterburn, Library Communications Student Writer

Most people love a sale. Make it one of the most significant used book sales in the state, and you can bet it will be good. If you’re looking to purchase inexpensive books and give back to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Library system, you only have to look at the Friend’s semi-annual Book Sales to find some of the best buys around. 

The Friends of UW-Madison Libraries has been putting on two book sales a year for 25 years and its popularity only continues to grow, raising over $1 million in total revenue before the pandemic in the Fall of 2019. 

“People come from all over the Madison community, and frankly, Wisconsin and the Midwest,” said Libby Theune, Administrator of Friends. 

The book sale has become so popular and the Friends have received so many items that Theune and her organizers made a significant change last fall. 

“For the first time, we used two rooms because so many book donations accumulated during the pandemic,” said Theune. “We dubbed it the Mega Sale, and indeed it was! We broke all our sales records.”

Then, the Spring sale filled two rooms for an entirely different reason. The Friends received a very generous gift from a single donor. 

“A long-time university employee and alumnus, Lewis Bosworth, passed away last fall,” said Theune. “Before he passed away, he made provisions to give his entire book collection to the Libraries and the Friends, Archives, and Special Collections,” she said. 

Bosworth donated 170 boxes of books, so the Friends decided to honor him in the Spring 2022 sale. “We filled a whole second room with his collection alone,” Theune said. “He was a highly-educated and well-read man.” 

Theune explained that the Spring 2022 sale went well, despite poor weather. “We honored a donor who had passed, we made over $30,000, and had a lot of student volunteers, which was awesome,” she said. 

When Theune started as Administrator five years ago, the volunteers that ran the book sale were older community members. “I didn’t know how to reach the students,and we needed to figure out a way to expand our volunteer base,” Theune said. 

Theune found that inviting different student organizations to help and giving them the opportunity to earn volunteer hours was the answer to bringing in a more significant number of students. “This Spring, we had help from a dance team, a cheer team, and we used the UW Boxing Club to “box up” the books at the end of the sale,” she said. 

A volunteer straightens books during the sale

The book sale for Fall 2022 is set for October 12th-15th. Libby Theune said they are still deciding if they will have two rooms again or not. “The fall sale is usually a strong one. We look to make at least 50% of our annual income at the fall sale,” Theune said. 

“We’ll be reaching out to students and have the volunteer sign-up ready when everyone comes back to campus after Labor day,” she said. 

Thanks to student volunteers and the fantastic donation from Lewis Bosworth, the Friends of UW-Madison Libraries ended up having an extremely successful book sale. 

If you’re looking to gain volunteer experience, or are interested in finding new, inexpensive books, then plan to attend the Fall 2022 Friend’s Book Sale. The earnings go back to our campus libraries in support of library projects, travel grants for scholars, and public events to highlight the unique collections of UW-Madison Libraries.