Pa. book sale has grown in size and success

May 04, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Almost 20 years ago, 15 or so volunteers held a one-day used book sale to benefit Legal Services Inc., raising about $2,300 to help provide legal representation to low-income individuals and families.

The sale has grown over the years, with sales totaling $33,000 last year, according to Esther Buck, a volunteer with Friends of Legal Services.

Thousands of titles in more than 50 categories will be sold at "ridiculously low prices" beginning this Friday in Wilson College's Laird Hall, according to Buck. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, she said Monday.


"We're making a guess at about 50,000 books, judging from the number of boxes that are packed and stacked and priced and ready to go out," the Chambersburg woman said. All of that work was done in assembly-line fashion by a core of about 20 volunteers at a small warehouse on Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority land.

"The first sale was held June 1, 1985, in one room at Wilson College and we had just two categories, fiction and nonfiction," Buck said. The sale now takes place in the much more expansive Laird Hall and about 70 volunteers will be needed to move the books, set up tables, do the selling and the final cleanup Sunday, she said.

"The book sale is pretty important to us," said Carrie Bowmaster, an attorney with Franklin County Legal Services. "It's one of our stable funding sources and one of our main funding sources."

A few years ago, Bowmaster said Legal Services Inc. merged with Mid-Penn Legal Services Inc. and attorney Mahesh Rao formed Franklin County Legal Services Inc. While they are separate entities, she said both serve the needs of those who cannot afford representation for civil legal matters.

"Both legal services cooperate because we want to help the most people," Bowmaster said. Attorneys provide assistance on issues such as divorce and child custody, bankruptcy and landlord-tenant disputes, she said.

"We hope to preserve peace within the family and protect their income and housing," she said of the clients.

Both agencies also benefit from the sale, according to Buck. Mid-Penn Legal Services has offices in Chambersburg, Carlisle, Pa., and Gettysburg, Pa., she said.

Friends of Legal Services has 28 collection points for used books. Most are in Franklin County, but there are some in Fulton, Adams and Cumberland counties. Books are dropped off for the sale beginning in March, but Buck said donations are received all year from estates, people who are moving or just cleaning out their homes.

Records, tapes and videos are also donated and some new books can be found among sales tables, according to Buck. Categories range from Americana to world cultures with something to fit just about anyone's taste.

Titles by authors such as John Le Carr, Stephen Koontz, James Michener and Ann Rule are available, along with more obscure tomes like "Raising Milk Goats the Modern Way."

"Books attract such interesting people," Buck said of the volunteers and patrons.

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