Stephen King said that books are a uniquely portable magic, and in the case of the Prendergast Library book sale, he was right.
For the past 33 years, a line has appeared outside of the Prendergast Library well before the beginning of the book sale. This year, that line appeared in front of the Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center, instead.
"The decision to move the sale to the renaissance center was pretty simple," said Tina Scott, Prendergast Library director. "When we have our regular book sale, we have to close down the library Thursday night, Friday and Saturday. Now that we're open on Sundays, we probably would have had to close it down then too. People need the library, and closing the library for four straight days would be a big inconvenience to a lot of people. The idea was: it's less cleanup for staff and less work for staff because we got a lot of volunteers to help us with this. The staff can continue to focus on running the library, and the book sale is run and overseen by mostly volunteers this year. So far, it could not have turned out better."
Bobbie Caswell, Prendergast Library head reference, helps a customer make a purchase Friday at the book sale. Pictured below is Michael Magnuson, reference librarian.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
Although all of the books which were stored in the library over the past year for the sale needed to be moved across town, Scott said that there was hardly any extra work, since so many volunteers answered the call, and some extra help came from an unlikely source.
"We received a lot of help from trustees of the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility," said Scott. "They did all of the moving of the books, along with some BOCES students who were down here unloading them. It was such a big help for the staff. Normally staff does all the heavy moving, from the top floor of the library to the ground floor, but this time it was volunteers and (inmates)."
Scott said that the library approached the correctional facility about helping, and the correctional facility said it would not only be willing to help with the book sale, it would be happy to provide inmates to help with seasonal landscaping and maintenance needs, as well.
Scott also said that customers have enjoyed the extra space that the renaissance center provides.
"I've really gotten a lot of positive responses from people," said Scott. "They feel there is more room, it's very bright in here, and it's just a comfortable atmosphere. The response has been very favorable, and only a few people have said the contrary."
One of the largest concerns the library had in moving the sale was the availability of parking. The renaissance center isn't located next to a large parking lot like the library, but Scott said that downtown Jamestown is as friendly a place to park as any city's downtown.
"There's a parking ramp just down the street, and there are streets all over that are designated free parking zones," said Scott. "The city of Jamestown really isn't too bad on parking, but what we offer is an option to our customers where they can leave their books with a volunteer, go pick up their car, pull it along the side of the building, and our volunteers will bring their books out to the car. It worked out very well, and we'll likely continue to do that in future years."
Scott isn't sure if the renaissance center will continue to serve as the location for book sales in the future, but she did say that she couldn't be happier with this year's sale there.
"We rented the space for a very reasonable price," said Scott. "It's everything we hoped that it would be."
The library book sale continues today, opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 5 p.m. The annual bag sale will begin at 2 p.m. and run to close, where patrons are given a grocery bag, and a full bag of books costs $5. A special collection of books will also be set aside, and sold in a Chinese auction format.
"We wrote to some popular authors and local authors and asked them to donate copies of their books signed," said Scott. "Many were more than happy to do that, so we're having a silent auction on those books. We're also auctioning off an autographed Natalie Merchant childrens' book which she wrote."
Additionally, guests can purchase hot dogs, pop, water and chips from a concession stand while at the sale. It's the first time the library has offered food to guests as they shop.
"We've offered food during other events, such as the Scrabble tournament, and it's gone over very well," said Scott. "Sometimes people spend a lot of time at the sale, and as a result get hungry. This year we've taken care of that."
The Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center is located at the corner of Washington and Third streets.