Volunteer's work crucial to Sewickley library success
By Bobby Cherry
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Mary Walker knows a good book when she sees one. And she's been around quite a few.
While the 71-year-old lifelong Sewickley resident said she enjoys reading, her ability to organize thousands of books in an effort to raise much-needed money for the Sewickley Public Library is important, Director Carolyn Toth said.
“If Mary were not here to sort donated books and items for us, I can't imagine what we would do,” Toth said, adding the library receives new donations nearly daily. “They'd be shipped upstairs and piled up. We need someone to be able to touch those books to go through them.”
For about a decade, Walker has organized many of the used book sales held at the Thorn Street library, including one scheduled Friday through Sunday.
She volunteers most weekdays, sorting books and other items throughout the year preparing for sales.
More than 2,000 books are organized and distributed among tables throughout the library for the used book sales. Even more are stowed away to be sorted.
The work of Walker, who organizes the book sales hosted by the Friends of the Sewickley Public Library — a nonprofit fundraising arm of the library — is crucial to continue and add programs and services the center's budget can't afford, Toth said.
Over the years, the Friends group has purchased big-ticket items such as kitchen appliances for the community room and digital television screens, regularly adding to the library's books, movies and video-gaming collection.
Since 2009, more than $50,000 has been raised through book sales, according to library data. Book sales are just one of the ways the Friends group raises money for the library.
The organization offers an annual donation of about $56,000 to add to the general circulation collection, Toth said. The group provides money for summer reading programs, Battle of the Books, putting the Sewickley Herald on microfilm and to a “wish list” — things the library could use, but can't afford in a general operating budget — such as the digital televisions that are expected this year.
“We could not do some of the programming we do without that extra ‘wish list' money or even provide some of the services we do,” Toth said.
Prices for books and media typically range from $1 to $3. On Sunday, a clearance sale offers $5 for a bag full of items.
Increasing prices has been discussed, but Walker said prices offered are affordable. Though, Walker said, when rare finds cross her path, she price checks them on Amazon. And if a book could be sold for higher, she notes the Amazon asking price on a display tag, but still sells lower.
Used book sales are held three times a year — February, June and September.
A decision to offer used book sale tables throughout the year has been paying off, Walker said.
In November and December, tables with books, wreaths and other items brought in more than $5,000 for the Friends group, she and Toth said.
They're not sure how many people visit the used book sales, but Walker said a crowd — made up of mostly collectors and dealers — greets her at the start of the first day of the sale.
For Walker, lending a hand to the book sale is part of her effort to give back to a community institution she has grown with.
“I don't have grandkids, kids (or) siblings,” she said. “I have the library. So mentally, it's been really good for me.”
Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Edgeworth woman takes passion for orchids to annual show
- Ohio Township-based Family Guidance CEO follows mission, lifts at-risk youth
- Sewickley teen’s art helps her deal with challenges of epilepsy