What was started 34 years ago by a group of friends who wanted to help Oklahoma libraries has blossomed into an annual event that brings thousands of book lovers to Oklahoma City in search of a good read at an affordable price.
“We started small and probably raised just about $5,000,” said Beth Toland, a volunteer deemed the “voice” of the nonprofit organization, Friends of the Metropolitan Library System. “Overall I doubt if we had 1,000 books.”
Since then, the organization has sold millions of books during the annual sale and has donated $3.1 million to the Metropolitan Library System.
Each year the organization has a sale in the Oklahoma Expo Hall at State Fair Park, offering donated books gathered from libraries across the state.
This year, the sale will run be from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A presale party is from 5:30. to 9 p.m. Friday at the same location. The pre-sale is for members of the Friends organization, and Friends memberships will be sold in the lobby from noon to 4 p.m. Friday and again after 6 p.m.
Annual dues are $10 for individual or family memberships and $6 for seniors.
Admission to the sale Saturday and Sunday is free. Hardback books typically sell for $1 and paperbacks for 50 cents.
In the “collectors choice” area, books are priced individually, with most under $5.
The books cover a range of subjects, from western to romance to medical to cookbooks, plus a large selection of audio books, videos and DVDs, according to publicity Chairman Shirley Pritchett.
“It's such a win-win-win situation. We get to have a sale, and the whole city looks forward to it,” Pritchett said.
Toland said after sale expenses are paid, the remainder of the proceeds pay for items for the Metropolitans Library System including equipment and furniture, and special programs the library hosts for the community.
Joe McReynolds, Friends volunteer and vice president, said he and his wife attended their first book sale 20 years ago.
“We originally got involved because we love libraries and love the idea of providing money to the library. But there's a greater purpose I think we all feel. We are proud to do a service for this community by providing books at a minimum price,” McReynolds said.
Toland said she loves seeing the joy that books bring to the shoppers.
“We are a group of people who love books. I enjoy seeing people get so excited about this array of books just waiting to be read,” she said.
Toland said event organizers are still looking for volunteers.
For more information about the sale or to volunteer, go to www.mlsfriends.org.