Library hosts successful Mini-Fair and Book Sale

Attendance numbers up, proceeds exceed expectations

Organizers are hailing the recent Library Mini-Fair and Book Sale as an unqualified success.
Senior library staff estimate that nearly 3,000 residents attended the September 26 fair, which was sponsored by Friends of the Library, a nonprofit entity that helps raise money for library programming. That figure is an increase over last year’s attendance estimate, which was about 2,000 people.
“It amazes me, every year there are residents who come to the Mini-Fair and Book Sale and it’s the first time they’ve stepped foot in our library,” said Friends of the Library President Josephine DeGennaro. “The purpose of our organization is to stimulate awareness about the library as an informational, educational, and cultural center for people of all ages in our community. The Mini-Fair is a great way for us to achieve that goal.”


“We’re very happy with the event.” – Jenifer May

The annual fair, now in its twelfth year, has changed little since its inception but still manages to be a major community event.
“I come here all the time. I got some books for my boss to read at lunchtime,” said resident Gladys Warner. “Final Justice,” “Divorce and Money,” and “From the Corner of His Eye” were among the many books she had selected, both for herself and for her coworker.
For the book sale, attendees purchased large bags for $4. Any books they could fit in the bags were theirs to take home. The paperback and hard cover books sold were “gently used” titles from the library’s own shelves. A number of used DVDs were also for sale.
Library Director Jenifer May said last week that 464 $4 bags were sold and she estimated that 5,000 books were likely sold during the event.
“I bought some books for my grandchildren,” said Sadek Neruz, pointing in their direction. A number of children’s books, including “My Dog Skip” by Willie Morris, filled his clear book bag.
Robert Leier also lugged around a stuffed bag, but his was filled with old DVDs.
“What I do is, I watch the movie and if I like it, I keep it,” he said. “But if I don’t like the movie I just put pieces of tape [over the holes on the DVD] and I record over it. That way, I can use it like a blank DVD. It’s cheaper than buying new blank DVDs at the store.”

A clown, a kangaroo, and a winning cake

The book sale wasn’t the only attraction of the day, of course. Fifty-seven vendors turned out to sell everything from clothing and jewelry to food and professional services.
There was lots of entertainment for children, too, including a cranky clown at the dunking tank and a big, red “kangaroo.” Face painting, Angelo Marra II’s Batmobile, and the ubiquitous inflatable fun house that’s on hand at most community events helped round out the fair’s activities for kids.
Aside from the book sale, raffles and food were among the main attractions for the adults.
Three fair share prizes – $1,138, $682.80, and $455.20 – were awarded at the fair.
The ever popular annual baking contest was a big draw again this year.
Mary Popolizio took home the baking contest grand prize for her carrot cake, which also won in the best cake category. Cheryl Toman took the prize for best pie. Linda Gerson, a tutor for the library’s literacy program, won a prize for her banana walnut muffins. Other baked goods, both sweets and healthier fare, were on sale throughout the day.

Thousands raised

In all, the day-long fundraiser brought in about $10,000, according to May. Money raised came from the book sale, raffle tickets, a bake sale, vending booth rentals, and businesses and individuals who sold items and gave the money generated to the library.
Mayor Richard Steffens, for example, sold hotdogs at the fair and donated proceeds from the hotdog sale to Friends of the Library. Until her retirement earlier this year, Steffens’ wife, Katherine Steffens, was the longtime library director.
Proceeds from the event will be used to begin digitizing local newspapers that have begun to disintegrate. Papers that had already been transferred to microfilm will also be digitized. The total estimated cost to digitize these records is about $20,000. The $10,000 raised from this year’s Mini-Fair and Book Sale will, May said, allow the library to complete phase one of this project.
“We’re very happy with the event,” said May last week. “The money we raised certainly exceeded our expectations, although we did expect it to be a successful event.”
DeGennaro agreed, but said the event has significance beyond fundraising.
“I don’t think you always measure an event based on how much money you raise,” she said. “You also have to look at the fact that so many people partake in so many Mini-Fair events.”
In addition to raising money for the library, the book sale also helps the staff clear shelves of older titles and movies to make room for newer releases.
In the same spirit of recycling, the library will host a “book swap” next Saturday on October 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I know that many of our patrons have already read at least half of the books they bought at the Mini-Fair,” May said. “The book swap would be a great place to swap them for the bargains someone else got that day.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at

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