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Book sale continues to grow at People's Library

| Friday, July 16, 2004

NEW KENSINGTON -- Popular authors sell their hardback books for more than $20. The People's Library in New Kensington is selling them for less than $10.

The basement of the library has been transformed into a book outlet, divided into genres -- classics, cookbooks, nonfiction, fiction, romance and children's titles -- and featuring big-name authors such as Stephen King, Danielle Steele and James Patterson.

For the past six months, donations have been dropped in book barrels at Golden Dawn, CVS and Giant Eagle in New Kensington, Community Market in Lower Burrell and local post offices.

From there the books make their way to the library for sorting. Last Monday, volunteers faced a mountain of about 500 books.

"We couldn't even walk through the room," said Marge Dorich, a volunteer from New Kensington. "We had to clear books out so we could walk through and shelve them."

Dorich is one of many volunteers. Book sale coordinator Winnie Truax relies on the help of more than 60 volunteers to pull off the event and raise money for the library.

The pressure is on this year, as the library is facing a cut in funding.

"We lost 20 percent of government funding," Truax said. "And government funding wasn't that great to start with."

Last year, the book sale generated $24,000. The money went toward buying new books and paying general bills.

This year, volunteers are hoping to increase that number by a few thousand dollars.

"Every year they try to top the amount of money they made, and they usually do," said volunteer Mary Andree of New Kensington.

Over time, that surely has been the case as this year will top the first year by about $25,000. When Lillian Wolfson started the sale 23 years ago, she made $45.

"That was back when New Kensington had a sidewalk sale," said Dorothy Kress, another volunteer. "Lil went outside with a cart and the sale grew from there."

According to the volunteers, the sale has grown into a give and take with both the library and the community benefiting.

Residents donate books they don't want and then go to the sale to buy other titles at low prices. Their support keeps the library afloat.

Kris Snyder of Leechburg donates books throughout the year and then brings her four children to the sale to find other titles for what she called mom's reading program.

"They just have to do more reading than watching TV," Snyder said of her children, who each get about 10 to 15 books at the sale. "They are excited to go home and read them. They'll probably read on the way home."

The youngsters aren't the only ones excited. Many of the volunteers said they are happy to see so many people reading, especially children. But they also are happy about the success the sale has in the community.

"With so much closing in New Kensington -- there are so many empty storefronts -- the library still is strong," Andree said. "That's nice to see."

Additional Information:

If you go

What: Book sale.

When: Continues from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, cost is 50 cents per pound; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, cost is $2 per bag.

Where: People's Library, Barnes Street, New Kensington.

On sale: Books, tapes, magazines, records, DVD's, puzzles and food.

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