Glen Lake Library book sale offers treasures and pleasures


By F. Josephine Arrowood
Sun contributor

For those who seek treasures within the pages of a good book (or, perhaps, in this electronic age, a movie, CD, or audiobook), ye need look no further than the Glen Arbor Township Hall, where the Annual Friends of the Glen Lake Community Library Vintage Book Sale will take place on August 10-12.

While some search for treasures, others seek pleasure — and the book sale delivers, with 50 categories of fiction and non-fiction, CDs, puzzles, a “huge children’s book section,” and games. Genres such as mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, biographies, and history are much in demand.

“Everything moves; any movies get snapped up. Kids’ books are pretty popular,” library director David Diller observes.

The Friends’ book sale chair Sue Miller estimates, “We probably have more than 3,000 [titles] of fiction and nonfiction, filling the Township Hall.” She speaks with pride of the quality of the offerings, donated each year by community members, and handily organized by the volunteer Friends group to benefit the library’s operations.

“We’re pretty picky about what gets into our sale. We don’t take videos, magazines, encyclopedias, or Readers Digest condensed books, but for some reason, some people will put them in; they can’t seem to throw a book away. No stains, torn pages, or smells — if we gag, they go into recycling,” she adds humorously.

“People have found treasures at the sale,” enthuses Miller, recalling the man who “picked up a history book, took it home, looked it up online, and it was worth $300!”

The Preview Party has also proven popular among book devotees, whose modest entry fee gains them first access to the multitude of titles, as well as a silent auction of “special interest” books, including signed copies by Michigan authors. The Friends also serve wine and homemade desserts, lending a festive atmosphere to the browsing.

Diller, who has been the Glen Lake Community Library Director for 14 years, notes that the sale began a new chapter several years ago. “One of the big changes was that they moved it from the Empire Township Hall to Glen Arbor. It’s a lot more work for them, but the traffic is better. The Preview Party started since I’ve been here — on a trial basis at first — it was so successful! They were surprised that people would pay $5 to go to a used book sale.”

He emphasizes that only the Wednesday evening preview costs money; the main event, on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., is free and open to all. On Friday, the “$5 Bag Sale” encourages patrons to fill a large paper grocery sack with finds. After the sale ends, any remnants are snapped up by a book dealer, who makes a donation to the Friends, thus ensuring that “the event starts fresh each year,” Miller explains.

She has chaired the book sale committee for the past nine years, and praises the Friends organization as “so wonderful. I like to think of them as a well-oiled machine; we all work together because we love books!”

The process is year-round, involving not only the Friends but other community activists as well, such as Glen Lake High School’s football team, and other students fulfilling community service requirements. They help with the heavy lifting, moving sorted and boxed items from an office donated by Fred Salisbury at the State Bank building in Empire, to a larger storage space donated by Gerald and June Powley.

“There the books stay until the day of the sale, when a coalition of men with trucks moves it all to the Township Hall,” Miller explains, before heading out to oversee a final pre-sale organizing sortie. “We’re here all winter, sorting. Steve Nielsen evaluates the books,” and rarer finds are sold online, with the profits going into the Friends’ fund, along with the year-round sale in the library’s entry of other donated materials.

The Glen Lake Community Library has seen tremendous growth since it first opened its doors on July 10, 1977, and the efforts of the Friends organization have helped ensure its expansion and continuing viability into the 21st century. Director Diller contrasts the overall dismal picture of many libraries statewide, both large and small, with the thriving community resource that serves Empire, Glen Arbor, and Kasson townships.

“We enjoy very strong support, and a stable tax base from people that use and value libraries,” he states. “Almost all our income is generated locally; bigger libraries that depend on state aid — that’s just been slashed. Many libraries have had to close, over the objections of almost everyone — that’s really shortsighted.

“Our usage patterns have changed over the years. We have more requests for electronic books, and are about to enter that market — it appears that’s the wave of the future,” as computer use in libraries, movie rentals, and audiobooks were once library novelties, but now are commonplace.

The Friends’ fundraising activities bring in “a tidy sum,” according to book sale chair Miller, which donates approximately $10,000 annually to the library.

“David Diller does so much, expanding and keeping the collections current. We also do a weekly story hour for preschoolers during the school year, and we purchase the films shown in the Traverse City Film Festival.”

Why care so much about libraries? “We love books!” says the former copy editor who retired to the Glen Lake area from downstate Okemos with her husband. “What makes this community so special is that most or all of us have chosen to live here — [bringing] extra special love and community to the area.” And after the book sale ends, what finer treasure than that could Glen Lake hope to find?

The Friends of the Glen Lake Community Library Vintage Book Sale continues through Friday, August 12, from 9 to 11a.m. For more information, contact the library at (231) 326-5361.