Book lovers rejoice

Readers, bookstore owners and families all over the Ozarks flock to attend the Friends of the Library semi annual book sale held at the Springfield Fairgrounds Eplex Center. There are two book sales each year; one in the fall and one in the summer, that consist of not only cheap used books but also cheap records, games, magazines and so much more.
In 1985 a group of booklovers and library workers started Friends of the Library from scratch, and over the years, their simple idea not only raised money for the local libraries but has also found a way of recycling unwanted books and allowing access to those who might not have had it before. Kathleen O’Dell, community relations director for the Friends of the Library and the Springfield Greene County Library voices her view/
“The last sale in spring 2022 we made $167,698, and that wasn’t the highest we’ve ever made but it was close to the record. Since 1985 the friends have made over $4 million in sales,” O’Dell said.
The Friends of the Library has smaller scale sales in Nixa, Clever, Ozark and other small towns, all of which sell donated books and other donated items as well the money raised is still donated to the local libraries.
Friends of the Library is run and operated by unpaid volunteers, who do the organizing, transporting, and pricing of the merchandise. They are also present during the sale, helping customers find their way around, cleaning up as they go, and managing the cash registers.
“They are all volunteers, but the Friends have a board of people who head the projects, there are treasurers, groups that decide on grants, many who run the book sales all with different jobs,” O’Dell said.
Not only do the volunteers keep coming back but so do the customers. Customers are able to get memberships and these customers are the ones who come the most. Regina Greer Cooper works in the administrative office and support staff of the Greene-County Library associated with the Friends of the Library.
“They have about 1,400 members right now and they pay a membership fee that helps pay the expenses that the friends have to do the book sales,” Cooper said.
The books, records, games and other merchandise are sourced from the community and local libraries. Everything is donated. Which doesn’t seem like a large deal until it’s understood just how much there is.
“I would say there are probably about 1,000 donations, for each sale. They fill about six to seven tractor trailers of books. They continually get donations through the year and could probably fill a trailer with the donations from just the last month,” O’Dell said.
Some customers that come from outside of the community.
“The sale usually attracts thousands of people,” O’Dell said. “Some come from four-state areas; they know that this is probably the largest book sale in the region. Collectors and smaller used book stores come, book sellers will come and get the books for cheap and sell them online or in other stores, teachers, homeschool families, etc., all enjoy these book sales.”
Students also find joy in attending the Friends of the Library book sale, Sophomore Macarah Burns depicts her love of the book sale.
“It was pretty cool,” said Burns, “I didn’t know what to expect walking in for the first time, but I was shocked to see the number of books and the numerous genres. There were people of all ages, it was a bit chaotic but that just made it more fun.”