A note to our valued Volunteers….
Thank you from May Goodwin, Coordinator of the 2023 Book Sale Core Committee

Friends Chair Ian Findlay with Treasurer and Book Sale Chair May Goodwin Receiving the Guelph Today Community Builders Award in The Arts in June, 2023, for 20 years of Volunteer service to Guelph’s Cultural community.

The 2023 Book Sale, our 15th sale, is over now. The left-over books are gone, the floors have been swept, the money has been counted, the bills are all paid, and the avalanche of post-sale chores is slowing down enough that I now have time to reflect on the past few months.

This was the second year in a much smaller space and my second year as Book Sale Committee Chair. Both the space and I were able to apply some of the lessons learned in the previous year. Working in a much smaller space than would be optimum came with necessary sacrifices.

The Committee keeps extensive records of past sale attendance by sale day and percentage of book sales by genre. Additionally, we conduct an exit poll where all suggestions and complaints are considered and which may guide and lead to future possible changes. As you can imagine not all suggestions are possible within our constraints of space, time and cost, but we do try!

Responding to the 2022 exit poll, where many patrons felt that the space was too crowded at times, the committee made the decision to limit the number of patrons allowed entrance at each sale period. To off-set this we added an extra sale day period and eliminated one period that had not been well attended in the past.

To make a more open and less crowded atmosphere we regretfully eliminated a few genres which some patrons had enjoyed in the past. This is not to say that a particular genre has less value, simply that there was limited space in which to include these books which our numbers show held less interest to patrons. On the plus side, we were able to place the tally and cash exit in an outer hall thereby avoiding what had been a real bottle neck at the 2022 sale.

The results, according to the 2023 exit survey were successful. Patrons and volunteers liked the bright, clean space with separate rooms for particular genres of books and a less crowded atmosphere. This was accomplished by responding to suggestions from patrons and dedicated work over a period of about three months from over 200 volunteers: the Book Sale Committee and working groups, donation receivers, disposal and retrieval crews and sorters, sale day assistants parking attendants, post-sale packing, clean-up and storage, etc. Phew, I’m tired just remembering. And many noted their appreciation for something new this year, our “troubadour” Bob MacLean, who serenaded the crowds waiting for the doors to open.

Volunteers and others often ask, “what happens to the books that you don’t keep or can’t sell”? In the past, our response has been a vague and a hopeful “we work very hard to keep most items out of landfill”, but this year we worked even harder, introduced a new initiative and really did achieve that goal. We found several homes for gently used books before the sale, offered remainders to diverse charities afterwards, and packed up most of the other unsold books and media for either Better World Books or Value Village where we were paid by their FUNDrive Program. These strategies produced a big win for the book-sale – financially and environmentally.

I am grateful to the Book Sale Core Steering Committee and its working groups for always having my back and for offering sound advice and assistance. All of our volunteers contributed to the success of the sale and each deserves my thanks and gratitude. Their effort not only contributed to the Book Sale but contributed to the community at large and to the Friends of the Guelph Public Library’s effort to support the Public Library. Was it worth it? Absolutely! As a result of the 2023 book sale, we can contribute approximately $64,000 toward our next $1,000,000!

GPL CEO Steve Kraft; GPL Board Chair Randalin Ellery; Friends Chair Ian Findlay; Friends Founding Chair Virginia Gillham

A final note. On the Friday of the sale, we invited those who were working a double shift to enjoy a slice of pizza and lemonade. An hour before the pizza treat a gift from one of our long-standing volunteers appeared on the kitchen table. This was an iced chocolate cake with raspberry filling enough for 30 people —- delicious as it was, it was the wording in the icing which blew us away, it said:

Essentials for a very Successful Giant Book Sale:
Vision, Planning, Organization, Commitment, Heart,
Trust, Leaders, Perseverance, Volunteers,
Community support, Goals.

Thank you, Janet, for these truths.

With grateful thanks to over 200 volunteers,

May Goodwin, Chair, 2023 Book Sale Committee