Roving Reporter | "Need Books? Aransas County Library Has Got Them!" by Jeanette Larson

A grandmother and her grandchild peruse the free books

Books are sorted in the workroom
Most people think about the public library as a place to borrow books, DVDs, music, and more, and Aransas County Public Library does all that. But post-Harvey the library is also the place to go to purchase books inexpensively or add a few free ones to your collection. Harvey destroyed the two used book stores in town and, although the public library has always had an on-going book sale, as well as an annual Friends of the Library book sale, now the library is the only place in town to get used books. And they have a ton of them. Literally. And the price is right!

The library receives about $21,000 from the County to buy books and other media, pay for e-book/e-audio subscriptions, and purchase other materials. But they also depend on donations to fill gaps in the collection, complete series, and add specialty items. When boxes of donated materials come in, volunteers sort the items, putting aside materials that are in excellent condition. Library Director Iris Sanchez then reviews those items and adds what she can to the collection. They use as much as possible but can't add materials that are older than 10 years, have browning pages (called "foxing"), are torn or are missing pages, or are dirty and worn. Those items, plus perfectly good materials that just aren't needed are put in the Friends of the Library on-going book sale. Those materials, including many books in great condition, DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, and books, are then sold for 25 cents for books (10 cents for children's materials) and $1.00 for media like DVDs. The Friends of the Library make about $2,000 a year on the book sales and that money goes back to the library for summer programming for children, programs during the year, and other unmet needs.

Making a selection
Because we have such a diverse and educated community, often the books are real finds. A lot of the donations are from the personal libraries of residents who have passed away or have had to move to care facilities. The families want the books to go for a good cause. Many are from retirees who are downsizing or cleaning off shelves from their now-completed careers. For example, a recent box included a collection of anthropology books about the Mayans. Sanchez noted that there are a lot of hard-to-find books and interesting topics in the boxes and people "are willing to take a chance for a quarter." Some books, especially extra copies of recent fiction and bestsellers, are in near perfect condition but the library doesn't need additional copies. Books with little resale value, like Reader's Digest condensed editions, are always given away free.

Iris Sanchez adds donations to the collection
Most of the on-going sale is held in the meeting room and that sale is normally supplemented by the annual Book Sale. Usually held in February, the Friends of the Library had to cancel the annual book sale due to Harvey. Many of their volunteers are scattered, waiting for homes to be repaired. The library meeting room is also still frequently used for county and court meetings right now. So so show their thanks to the community, during February the library is hosting "We Love Our Readers" and giving away three books per person. Many of these books were donated post-Harvey with publishers like Simon & Schuster sending multiple copies of books including a lot of children's classics like Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars.  Guideposts also donated multiple copies of their "Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries" series, also available free.

Volunteers are always needed to help with sorting and putting books out. Call Iris Sanchez at
 (361) 790-0153 or stop in 701 E. Mimosa for more information, to donate books, or to find some new reading treasures. There is something new every week!

Free books!
DVDs and CDs are $1.00

Kiosk in the lobby points to the meeting room 

Amish mystery series

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