• Kim Piekos

Book It: Library Sale to Offer More Than 100 Categories to Thousands of Customers

By Kim Piekos

“We’re back!” exclaims Friends of Lake Forest Library Used Book Sale co-chairs Nancy Mieling and Sande Noble. After taking a necessary break during the pandemic in 2020, the 45th Annual Sale will take place Sept. 16-19 at the Lake Forest Recreation Center gymnasium. As that date draws near, the Friends welcome donations through Sunday, Aug. 29 on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9 a.m.-noon at the back of the library. No donations may be left at the back of the library on the dock or anywhere unattended on other days.

“We have one of the tidiest and best organized book sales in the Midwest,” says Sande Noble (right), who is co-chairing the Lake Forest Library Used Book Sale with Nancy Mieling.

The Friends are accepting, in gently used condition, fiction and non-fiction hardcover and paperback books, cookbooks, audiobooks on CD, DVDs and music CDs, board games and jigsaw puzzles. They do not accept any books that are damaged, soiled or musty, encyclopedias, Reader’s Digest condensed books, magazines, video games, VHS tapes, cassette tapes or vinyl records. The Friends co-chairs will happily come to your home to pick up your donation.

“Because of the generosity here in Lake Forest, it’s phenomenal what we have to offer at the sale,” says Mieling. Shoppers will be treated to more than 150 tables of donated books. “Some are brand new and have never been opened,” she added. “We have some people who buy all of their books for the year here. After they are finished reading them, they donate them back to us.” Though this year’s sale is smaller than usual given that the Friends had less time to collect books with the pandemic, 4,000-5,000 people are still expected to attend.

The sale kicks off with a Preview Day Sept. 16 for members of the Friends of Lake Forest Library. Shoppers can become members this day to gain the benefit of first pickings of the thousands of books. The sale is open to the public Sept. 17-19. Teachers looking to stock their classroom bookshelves get 25% off books when they show their teacher ID badges on Saturday. Sunday is half off of everything.

Known as one of the largest used book sales in the Midwest – second only to St. Louis – the Friends take great pride in how organized and detailed their sale is. Books are easy to find based on your interest. Some of the 115 categories of books includes, children’s, young adult, new fiction, biography, history, business, architecture, poetry, cooking, travel, art, coffee table, collectors, Lake Forest, Chicago, reference books and “books for looks” (used for staging homes and decorating bookshelves). “We have one of the tidiest and best organized book sales in the Midwest,” says Noble.

The more than 200 volunteers bring this sale to life through hours spent collecting, cleaning and sorting the books for a year before the sale. Some volunteers adopt a specific section for the year and manage it at the sale. “Many of our volunteers are experts in their sections and have cultivated quite impressive selections with the books donated by our generous community members,” Noble says.

Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to do so by inquiring online at https://www.lakeforestlibrary.org/friends-lake-forest-library. “We’ve seen many volunteers establish weeklong friendships for over 20 years,” says Mieling. “It’s an enriching volunteer experience on many levels and a cheerful group of people who work very hard.”

Mieling and Noble both enjoy the community and logistical aspects of putting on this sale.

“Our library is a treasure in this town and something people want to support,” says Noble. “The logistics are so fun to make happen. There aren’t many events that involve this many people giving their time, energy and enthusiasm to one thing. It’s a win-win for the community of Lake Forest and for the library.”

The Friends of Lake Forest Library is a group of dedicated supporters and library enthusiasts who raise funds through book sales to support the mission and services of Lake Forest Library, as well as to engage in related educational, charitable, and cultural activities. Since the first sale in 1976, the book sale has moved from the library to the Gorton Community Center parking lot, to Market Square, to a yellow tent in West Park, and finally to its current location in the Lake Forest Recreation Center Gymnasium. The sale now raises about $100,000 a year for the library. The organization is grateful to the book sale’s corporate sponsors including Sunset Foods, Uline, The Grainger Foundation and West Rock. To share the breadth and wealth of books donated, any books not sold are donated to organizations such as McHenry County Defenders and Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Forest.