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Friday, January 21, 2022

Friends of the Library book sale begins over weekend

The line of people snaked its way through the parking lot and up the sidewalk of North Main Street.

People came from all over the state and, in some cases, the country to take part.

Saturday was the semi-annual Friends of the Library book sale. The sale has existed since 1954, and the money will go to the Alachua County Library District and literacy programs.

Ann Hemme, a co-chair for the book sale, said Saturday had record-breaking numbers for the sale in terms of money earned on the first day. Hemme would not reveal the numbers but said the last record was set in the spring book sale.

Yvonne Lowing, of Crestview, Fla., said she put out her chair to mark her place in line at 4 a.m. Thursday. She was fourth in line.

It's a five-hour drive to get to Gainesville from Crestview, Lowing said.

She said Saturday she would buy as many books as possible until her car was filled. The books will be unloaded at Crestview for sale at her bookstore, Emerald Coast Book Haven. After her car has been unloaded, she will return for the Tuesday sale that is half price, she said.

"I really work this sale," Hemme said.

Arnaldo Alvarez, who graduated from UF in 2006 with a degree in business, said he was looking forward to buying as many classic rock records as he could find. Last year, he said he bought ,60 worth of records, which included The Beatles and The Doors.

As the clock approached 9 a.m., when the book sale officially started, the line got fatter as people got ready to enter through the garage door of the building.

"I gotta get my game mentality on," said Shane Straight, of Greensboro, N.C. Straight said he drove 10 hours to buy books for his bookstore.

Minutes later, it was announced the book sale had started as people swiftly marched in carrying plastic tubs, duffel bags and cardboard boxes.

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Inside, people packed the building.

Some patrons moved quickly through the aisles looking through the sections to find the books they wanted. Others strolled through, gazing at their lists.

Some lugged their boxes, swaying left to right to a silent beat. Others dragged their bags behind them.

Inside the coveted Collector's Corner, which contains rare and specialty items, every inch of the shelves seemed to be covered by a mass of people.

While the inside of the book sale was swamped, Lowing said the crowd waiting outside before the sale started was smaller than usual. She said part of the reason is the book sale has banned the use of scanners.

She said scanners were used to get the value of the book within seconds.

Hemme said scanners were banned because they had caused problems before, where people were leaving books all over the place and the volunteers had to reorganize and re-sort the shelves.

However, the ban of scanners hasn't had a negative impact on the sale, she said.

"It's the best in 54 years," she said.

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