Why i love this town, #12,155
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse
His collection ranges from best sellers, such as Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" and Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," to obscure titles, like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn't even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full.
So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word.
"This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.
Durham, North Carolina
The most challenging Friends Book Sale on record—with a destructive fire less than six weeks prior and a nor’easter that blew in on closing day and stayed around to take down two tents the following morning—also exceeded previous sales records. The recovery from the fire was no small feat. Friends volunteers were buoyed, however, by the outpouring of generosity from the community, from publishing companies and, ultimately, by the hundreds of shoppers who showed up for the “not a fire sale” sale.
“There is no question, we did more sales than ever by at least $7,000,” exclaimed Jane Goodridge, Friends treasurer, who has co-chaired the group’s book sales with Carol Ann Walters for the past seven years. “Now the coffers are full again and we can keep our promises to help the library this year.”
The Friends, who annually provide thousands of dollars to the Library, have issued a challenge to match every new donation to The Campaign for the Library—Branching Out, dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000. They are also paying on a $110,000 pledge to the Foundation to support humanities programming and acquisitions. On March 6, the Friends wondered if the group would be able to keep its pledge, as volunteers watched thousands of books and hours of hard work go up in flames. The Friends’ storage shed and its most coveted—and pricey—books were a total loss after a fire that started in a waste container spread to the shed. Thousands of hardback fiction, children’s books and audiobooks collected since October were destroyed. As firefighters emptied the shed of the boxes that had been stacked floor to ceiling, Friends members who looked on counted their blessings: no one was hurt and there were almost six weeks to recover before the Spring Book Sale.
Immediate coverage by print and broadcast media galvanized a community that values and appreciates its library. The first two calls the Friends received the day after the fire set the course for recovery and success. SmartBox of Raleigh responded with portable storage units provided free of charge, and The Herald-Sun provided free advertising and served as a collection point for donations, which newspaper employees sorted, boxed and delivered. Soon, the Friends saw a new challenge take shape: an enormous wave of books to process in a very short time.
Carol Ann Walters who heads up the volunteer book sorters made a promise, “We’ll be here every day until the sale to receive any books people will give us.”
Marge Nordstrom, president of the Friends, put the organization into high gear. At the group’s March 7 board meeting, she swept aside the agenda and led a strategy meeting resulting in a full slate of volunteers who tackled numerous tasks in a short time frame.
Nordstrom said, “This Board is an outstanding group of active volunteers. They are worker-bees and put on aprons to work the sale, but they are also strategic leaders for the Friends and they love the library!”
The entire Library family—staff, trustees and directors of the Durham Library Foundation—rallied behind the Friends, soliciting donations, handling inquiries, recruiting volunteer helpers and directing donors to appropriate locations. Library Trustee Allan Lang contacted publishers, who donated more than five gaylords (boxes that hold 1,000 lbs.) of new books. County departments lent support, too, including General Services, which rearranged schedules to accommodate daily pickup of refuse generated by the frenzy of book donations and sorting. The County also provided new fire extinguishers and improved lighting in the garage.
The book sorters put everything they had—heart, soul and sinew—into turning the book sale around by working every weekday morning to ensure that the sale would go on. Their hard work paid off when they set up for the April 13 opening day with more and better-quality books than ever before.
The 2007 Spring Book Sale was the hottest ever in a long, proud history of Friends book sales. The sale exceeded all others by 25 percent and, Nordstrom believes, really raised awareness of the Library and the Friends throughout the community.
“Durham’s citizens let us know—by bagloads and carloads of donations and by bagloads and carloads of purchases—that they really love their Library,” she said.