A bunch of used books were piled on seven tables in the Lancaster Public Library’s basement in 1956 and sold to patrons, raising a whopping $154 for the library’s budget.
“It has really spiraled since then,” says Pat Ditzler, book sale chairwoman this year.
This year, the 60th annual book sale will be hosted by the Friends of the Lancaster Public Library at Franklin & Marshall College. More than 250,000 items will be for sale, on 380 tables, with anticipated proceeds of about $90,000.
That, combined with two smaller sales at the Friends’ Book ReSort Center, 225 N. Marshall St., and ongoing sales at the Marshall Street Book Shop at the ReSort and the Juliana Bookstore at 125 N. Duke St., brings in between $160,000 and $200,000 each year.
“In the early years, we’d ask the library for a wishlist. They’d use it for a new truck. We’d put it toward the bookmobile,” Ditzler says.
“Now the money is too big. It just goes directly into their bank account, and we don’t tell them what to spend it on,” she says. “It’s used for operating expenses. It’s keeping the doors open. It’s salaries and books.
“It’s not for pretty things. It’s for essentials.”
The sale also aids the local economy in other ways, Ditzler says.
“People come from all around the country. Last year, we had a volunteer go out and count license plates from 28 different states,” she says.
“People stay overnight, they eat their meals here,” she adds. “We have a good reputation. And we mentor a lot of other libraries. It’s not a competition — when one library wins, they all win. We have learned a few things over 60 years.”
The sale runs Monday through Wednesday. For the first two days, most of the books cost 50 cents for paperbacks and $2 for hardbacks. Wednesday is half-price day.
Friends will set up a prize wheel to help celebrate the sale’s 60th anniversary.
By The Numbers
3,500,000 — dollars raised for Lancaster Public Library through used book sales since 1956.
250,000 — number of items for sale at the 60th annual used book sale.
160,000 — amount raised annually by the Friends through various sales.
7,000 — volunteer hours logged to prepare for this year’s sale.
7,000 — also the number of LPs that will be for sale this year.
3,000 — boxes of books for this year’s sale. Each box holds about 40 books.
1,000 — approximate number of books donated to the sale each year that instead go directly into the library’s permanent collection.
380 — tables needed to display all the books, LPs, DVDs and other items being sold this year.
175 — people who will be helping to set up for the sale on Sunday.
32 — years that sale chairwoman Pat Ditzler has been involved in the sale.
28 — number of states represented on license plates seen at last year’s sale.
50 — cost, in cents, of most paperbacks at the sale.
2 — cost, in dollars, of most hardback books at the sale.