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AAUW book sale has storied history of giving

October 30, 2006|by JANE SCHMIDT

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Used Book Sale has a history all its own. The first one, in September 1963, was modeled after the Vassar College sale held in the Washington, D.C., area.

The local sale was started as a fundraiser to help raise money for Washington County Free Library's building drive. A total of 10,000 books was sorted, priced, packed and stored in AAUW members' homes and $1,200 was raised at the first sale.

Two years later, the group held another book sale, this time to benefit a new library as Hagerstown Junior College moved to its Robinwood campus. The third sale was held in 1967, with the proceeds split between the two libraries.

The next sale was held in the spring of 1969 and this time, a portion of the profit was used to fund AAUW scholarships.

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As the sale grew, it became an annual event and was held at different sites in the county until finding a home at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike in 1994.

With the spring sale boasting 60,000 books, it was decided to add a fall sale in 2002. It began as a sale of holiday books, but now includes all kinds of books, focusing on paperbacks and nearly new hardbacks suitable for gifts.

It is also smaller than the spring sale - featuring 15,000 books - and is held in the atrium of the Fennel Building on Antietam Street in Hagerstown, which is near Washington County Hospital. This year's fall sale will be held from Thursday to Saturday.

Fall book sale co-chairwomen are Billie Sue Boyer and Nina Wells. They said books come in by the bagful, the boxful, even by the truckload.

"It's a great opportunity to stock up for winter reading and also to shop for holiday gifts," Boyer said. "We have lots of beautiful children's books and coffee-table tomes, all at low, low prices."

Paperbacks sell for 50 cents and hardbacks range in price from $1 to $10. Audio books, CDs, DVDs, VHS and tapes are also for sale.

"We really do have a nice selection of books that can be gifts and books for leisure reading," said Jeanne Stoner, book sale chairperson. "We have mystery, fiction, coffee-table books, children's books and scads of paperbacks."

There are also cookbooks and Civil War collections.

A dedicated group of eight volunteers meets regularly in a basement room provided by the library to prepare the books for the sale, with about 10 volunteers helping occasionally.

Volunteers include AAUW and Friends of the Library members. In August alone, 157 volunteer hours were logged.

After the books are priced, sorted and boxed, volunteers from Boonsboro Fire Co. assist in moving them to a tractor-trailer provided by D.M. Bowman.

Stoner said AAUW gives more than $35,000 annually to local charities from the money made at the sales. This year, 12 students received scholarships, $10,000 was given to Washington County Free Library and $4,000 to Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

While grateful for the donations received by the public, Stoner said they can no longer use reference books, textbooks, records or magazines. What they do need are volunteers to help with the ongoing sorting and boxing of books.

To volunteer, contact Stoner at 301-733-2007 or Joann Fillingham at 301-739-7861.

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