Cocalico Corner: Some good reads at the end of the week

By on April 26, 2017

Cocalico Corner Donna ReedIf you’re like me, you look with a degree of glee and anticipation towards Friday afternoon.

The work week is winding down and the promise of some free time feels priceless.

Last week, on my way back to Reading, I made a stop at Peace United Church of Christ, just off Route 272 in Swartzville, to check out the annual Adamstown Area Library book sale.

Organized with the precision born of years of experience, the library Friends spend a year collecting donated books, sorting them, and preparing them for sale in the fellowship room of Peace UCC.

The church space is more than welcome on several levels. First of all, there’s lots of square footage on which to set up the tables filled with more than 20,000 books, CDs, DVDs, and puzzles and to divide the offerings by appropriate genre. Second, it’s level — ground level — making access easy for every devoted reader. Third, the parking lot is just a short few yards of sidewalk from the door; it just doesn’t get more convenient than that.

Like others I meandered in, making my way to my favorite genres — history and biography. Since I have books in every room of my house (yes, every room!), I did my best to curb my enthusiasm (and my husband’s exasperation) and limit my selections.

I’d wager that the 50 or so other folks at the sale were enjoying their Friday afternoon as much as I was and, ultimately, trying to exercise some discretion and control in their selections.

While perusing the volumes, I saw some friendly faces, folks I’ve had the pleasure of covering since becoming the Cocalico editor at the Review.

Over in the mystery section, West Cocalico Supervisor Ray Burns, a retired police officer, was inspecting detective tomes.

Across the hall, his wife Dawn and granddaughter Lara were fielding interesting choices in the children’s section.

Library Director Kathy Thren stopped by for a chat over the biographies along with Friends President Margaret Harting. I joined them for some conversation in the church kitchen where hardworking volunteers grabbed a few minutes of relaxation and some refreshments between tasks.

Margaret, whose been leading the charge since the annual sales began some two decades ago, was basking in the good feeling of the day and the numbers of folks attending and books selling.

“I saw one older lady as she left and asked her how she liked it,” said Margaret. “She looked at me and gushed: ‘I’ve just had the most wonderful time!’

“It’s just so much fun to hear someone say that.”

The annual sale has come a long way since its beginnings at Weaver Markets at Routes 272 and 897. Back then, it was held in the parking lot, the books were covered with tarps overnight, and Margaret and her husband kept guard, so to speak, by sleeping in their camper on the parking lot.

In subsequent years, the sale took place under the protected roof area to the front of the store, then as it grew, moved inside to a building owned by Weaver’s to the rear of the store. When that building was sold, the sale moved to Peace UCC 11 years ago.

In addition to the Friends, members of the library board, church members, the Cocalico High School Leo Club and football teams, along with area Boy and Girl Scout troops also work throughout the year — and especially the week of the sale — to make it a success.

Books are collected year-round; one of the most popular drop-off sites is a repainted mailbox at Weaver Markets, according to Gene Ferree, a library trustee.

The books are then stored in, well, what might best be described as a dungeon of sorts — a low-ceiling basement under the Adamstown Library/municipal building along Route 272.

I accompanied Margaret and Gene on a “tour” of this tight space already receiving books for the 2018 sale. At 5-foot-5, I nearly touched the rafters in some spots. Blue ribbons hanging from those rafters are reminders for volunteers to “duck.”

The books are all carried downstairs to this basement (no elevators, folks!) where they are sorted, boxed, and placed on pallets.

Margaret and Gene didn’t need to do a lot of explaining to me regarding their appreciation of the Cocalico football team members’ strength in moving the heavy boxes of books out each spring to Peace UCC where the boxes are then unloaded.

“They form a book brigade,” said Kathy, of the CHS student and the scout volunteers. “It’s something to see.”

The annual sale begins on a Wednesday when “early birds” have the privilege of paying a $5 admission fee to get the “best” books, usually newer bestsellers. This year, 134 folks did just that.

Thursday and Friday of last week saw a few hundred folks pass through the doors each day.

On Friday afternoon, I, along with so many others, were greeted by Yvonne Weaver, a library trustee, and Joy Maier, Friends treasurer, who offered directions to favorite genres.

The Friends has been an extraordinary asset to the Adamstown Area Library. Over the years, the group of highly dedicated individuals, has raised huge amounts of money for the library through a variety of events. The money has come in handy on a number of levels, and is especially welcome as the library plans a major move into the old Adamstown VFW Post on Main Street in the next year. The Friends, to that effort alone, have raised $100,000 for the capital campaign and $25,000 for the new library’s planned Tranquility Garden.

It is clear these dedicated volunteers have a real love for reading and for the library that is the focal point of their literary lives.

This year’s book sale, according to Margaret, raised $10,816. But the real story is more than dollars and cents.

“It’s not only about the money, but the community support we rally, the PR, and the hundreds of people we made happy and I think we are really successful with that,” said Margaret.

And I’m in pretty much full agreement with that.

I spent $12 on books ranging from presidential love letters to the saga of a family dog to small-town life in Alaska to memoirs by Nora Ephron and Shirley MacLaine.

My Review colleague Dena Reedy, one of the most inveterate readers I’ve ever met, would likely complete those books in a couple of weeks.

As for me, I have a running date with them and my front porch on some of these lovely spring and summer Friday afternoons to come. And, like Margaret says, you can’t put a price tag on that.


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