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By Staff | Apr 18, 2012

Bring out the bags, brush off the boxes, the Friends of the Library Book Sale opens this week at the Cape Coral Library.

Both a bibliophile’s and bargain-hunter’s dream, the fund-raiser will offer hardcover books at $2 a pop – less for paperbacks – Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the library on Southwest 39th Terrace.

Thursday is preview day – open only to Friends – while Friday and Saturday are public sale days.

“They start lining up at 2 o’clock; it’s unbelievable,” said Paula Novander, president of the Friends of the Cape Coral Library of the preview event set to run from 3-5:30 p.m.

Friends membership is $10 per year and may be paid at the door by those who wish to either get a jump on the sale or – hopefully – become involved with the volunteer organization that raises money for library programs and improvements, she said.

Friday hours for the general public are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday hours are 9 am. to 3 p.m.

The event typically features thousands of books of all types, including many best sellers.

“Most of the books are donated by the public, they are not recycled library books,” Novander said. “We do get some, but the majority are not recycled library books.”

Nor are the offerings leftovers from previous sales, usually held twice a year by the Friends.

“The main point is that we don’t keep the books, we sell all the books, and start over again in six months,” Novander said.

Her husband, Bob, is the book sale co-ordinator. He’s been doing the job for going on six years. Donors, and volunteers, make the sales – a major effort – possible.

Teams of volunteers will spend today loading up books from the storage unit in which they are kept, hauling them to the library off Mohawk Parkway and then lining them up on table after table. The sales are always well organized, with books neatly displayed in rows and categorized by type.

“We have a great group that helps us,” Novander said. “It’s a big effort on Wednesday, but we have a great team – everyone knows their place and their jobs.”

It’s also big money maker for the Friends, who have donated more than $100,000 to the Cape Coral Library in the last 10 years alone.

Right now, due to county budget cuts the Friends are donating “thousands of dollars” for programs, things like a magician’s show for children, and photography classes for teens. They also are helping provide refreshments for certain popular clubs like the chess club and reader’s groups.

“That used to be money provided by the county but they’ve had to cut back on funding,” she said “We’re more important than ever.”

Previous projects funded by the Friends include the Butterfly Garden installed during the last major library renovation – an $80,000 endeavor – as well as functional items such as carts.

All along the way, the volunteers helped make improvements and projects possible.

Most of the fund-raisers have been these large book sales,” Novander said. “We’ve been doing them for 40 years.”

The sale typically raises $5,000 to $6,000 every six months. Their record sale, in January 2007, raised more than $11,000 but there had been no sales the year before.

Other fund-raising efforts include the ongoing “First Dibs” book sales as well as the sale of small items such as ear buds for students and tote bags.

Donations are always welcome.

“If you’re cleaning out a house, don’t forget us,” she said, adding they invite people who have books to donate to call the Friends hotline number, 349-2572.

“You can leave a message about making a donation,” Novander said. “If you have a large donation, boxes of books, we will come pick them up. If you just have a bag, you can just bring them in to the circulation desk.”

With library traffic – and library needs – up, the Friends are again hoping for a good turnout this week.

“We provide all types of things for the library besides books,” Novander said.

And they have been doing it for a very, very long time.

The volunteer organization, previously called the Little Acorns, is as old as the library itself – nearly 50 years, dating back to the opening of the first Cape library on Nov. 2, 1962. Volunteers helped out at the original storefront, aided efforts when the library moved into the old art building on Coronado, and then into the county-built facility when it opened July 31, 1987.

“It’s a great community event, the signs are going up,” Novander aid. “We hope to see everyone there.”