A friendly sale

HOUGHTON – The Friends of the Van Pelt and Opie Library at Michigan Technological University held its annual book sale Tuesday and Wednesday. Although not the only way the Friends of the Library bring in money to the library, it is the biggest and most well-known.

“This is our biggest fundraiser,” said Amy Hughes, Friends of the Library chairman. “People are so generous giving their books and people come up every year from Marquette, Wisconsin and even Chicago to attend the book sale.”

With thousands of books donated and sold every year, the Friends of the Library are able to provide funds for many different requests at the Van Pelt and Opie Library. In the past year, they have helped purchase new equipment and furniture for the library as well as contributing to travel grants for visiting scholars who need to use the library’s archived materials in their research. The Friends of the Library even provide new books to the library.

“We help bring in popular books to the library. They call them ‘leisure books,'” said Kelly Luck, Friends of the Library treasurer. “I’m not sure if students have much leisure time to read them but we’re able to provide them.”

Although the annual spring sale is their biggest fundraiser, the Friends of the Library sell used books at other times during the year. For the past five or six years, Hughes said, they have had a smaller book sale during Tech’s annual Winter Carnival.

“We have hot chocolate and that usually gets people in,” she said. “And then they can buy books.”

For those who can’t wait until the sales to get their books, the Friends of the Library have installed a permanent shelf in the Van Pelt and Opie Library for used books. Run on an honor system, buyers can insert their money directly into a locked slot in the bookshelf for any used books they wish to purchase. Previously housed on a cart, the permanent location makes it easier to find.

“It’s always there for when people need their used book fix,” Hughes said.

People can also donate Econo Foods receipts into the bookshelf as part of the Econo Cares program. The funds from the receipts go toward education programs at the library.

Next week, funds from previous book sales will support two events at Michigan Tech; the visit of Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate Russell Thorburn on April 10 and The 1913-1919 Mining/Labor Strike Symposium also on April 10. Thorburn’s visit will take place in the East Reading Room of the library from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and the symposium, an all day event, will take place at the library, Fisher Hall and Finlandia University.

To run such a large-scale event, the Friends of the Library rely on help from others. This year, students from Tau Beta Pi, residence halls and Omega Chi Epsilon assisted with setting up and taking down the sale while members of the Society of Intellectual Sisters assisted with check out. Facilities management and the staff of the library also assist greatly, especially with moving the large volume of books from their storage space within the library. Of course, without the books there could be no sale.

“We have to thank everyone who donates. People are so generous giving their books,” Hughes said.