Sumter's readers are no doubt counting the hours until the annual Friends of the Sumter County Library Book Sale, which begins with Thursday's members-only preview and sale. The sale will continue Friday through Saturday and again Nov. 9 through 12, but it's to your advantage to join the Friends and have first chance at your favorite genres, according to Friends president Sue Griffin and library director Robert Harden.
The annual fee is $15 for an individual to become a member, and there are graduated rates for families, sponsors and other categories. Early admission to the book sale is the greatest perk of membership, other than knowing your dues support library programs.
"The book sale is definitely our biggest fundraiser," Griffin said. "We've been doing this a lot of years, and the proceeds fund the summer reading program for children, author events and other programs."
Harden noted that "The support of the Friends throughout the year is very, very important to the library. They are a big support, not just for the summer reading program, but all kinds of programs that benefit the community" that uses the library.
The books in this year's sale "are of high quality," he said. "In fact, I think these are the best we've had. I'd advise interested people to join the Friends and get here early." Thursday's Friends Preview Night will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
The meeting room at the main library, 111 N. Harvin St., is filled with books, carefully sorted and arranged by genre, with most hard covers priced at $1, and paperbacks at 50 cents. Some of the newer books and classics, as well as several books with Sumter and South Carolina themes, are priced a little higher. Harden was particularly impressed with several sets from London's Folio Society, which have exceptional bindings and look new, he said.
A quick perusal of available books revealed a large annotated copy of Arthur Conan Doyle's complete Sherlock Holmes stories, for example. In fact, there are bargains and treasures throughout the room, and all are carefully labeled by genres, among them travel, science, technology, Young Adult, religion, poetry and more.
While Friends member Suzanne Begley, who spearheads the organization of the sale room, said the best sellers are fiction and mysteries - "they go the first night like you wouldn't believe" - children's books, cookbooks and nonfiction also sell well, especially since there are so many newer volumes available.