Book sale grows into major library fundraiser in Richland

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Shoppers always line up early for the used book sale that opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday at Northern Tier Regional Library in Richland.

“Usually there are about 100 people waiting to get in. It always amazes me,” said Nancy Brenza, chairwoman of the event. Some are dealers. You can tell. They bring boxes with them.”

Book dealer Romayne Doody of Indiana County annually spends $70 to $80 at the sale on fiction for her late mother's shop — Margaret Sell's Used Book Store in Derry Township, Westmoreland County.

“The books are usually in very good condition,” Doody said. “The people are very friendly. They have a lot of books.”

Doody also praised the Richland sale's shopper-friendly layout.

“It's organized,” Doody said.

Each year, the book sale offers an estimated 5,000 titles, including hardbacks, paperbacks, CDs and DVDs. Separate tables offer books on varied subjects, including gardening, history, animals, religion and sports.

“We have a very good children's section,” Brenza said. “Patty Damian has been my able assistant for the book sale for at least 20 years. She is particularly good at organizing the children's books,”

The low cost of these gently used books has added to the popularity of the sale, which has grown exponentially over the years.

“The average price of a book is one dollar. Children's books are 50 cents,” said Brenza, chief organizer of book sale since 1988.

“It used to be a very simple sale. It was just three days and we made $500 to $1,000.”

Annual proceeds from the now five-day sale “are closer to $10,000,” Brenza said.

The Friends of Northern Tier Regional Library annually sponsor the used book sale to help fund children's programs at the library. Sale proceeds also pay for the library's popular “Best Friends” collection of bestsellers — such as “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling — which walk-in patrons can borrow for one week.

“They do a lot of awesome things with the money,” said Diane Illis, assistant director of the library.

People can drop off books year-round for the sale.

“We only want clean books in good condition,” Brenza said. “And we don't want text books, because they don't sell.”

Library employees initially sort donations, and pack the books in boxes for storage.

Between 25 and 30 people then organize and staff the sale.

“It's all run by volunteers,” said Brenza. “A whole lot of people help set it up. It takes three full days.”

The 2013 sale will close with a bag sale from noon to 4 p.m. March 17. The charge is $5 per bag of books.

“We don't care how big a bag people bring,” Brenza said. “We just want to get rid of the stuff. “

When the sale closes, however, work immediately begins anew for sale organizers.

“It's always very scary,” Brenza said. “You go upstairs and you think everything is cleaned up, and there are three boxes somebody just dropped off for next year.”

Hours for the 2013 Friends of the Northern Tier Regional Library Used Book Sale are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 14; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 15; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 16 and noon to 4 p.m. March 17 on the lower level of Northern Tier Regional Library, 4015 Dickey Road.

Only cash or checks are accepted for purchases.

For information, call 724-449-2665.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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