The AAUW State College used book sale is a favorite spring event in State College, taking over the Snider Agricultural Arena for a weekend each year, packing the space with used books and shopping bibliophiles on the hunt for a great find. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the annual event was canceled for 2020, and now AAUW volunteers are setting their sights on the 2021 event, all while taking new precautions to keep both volunteers and book donors safe.
Through the late summer and fall months, volunteers at the AAUW State College’s book sale workshop in Boalsburg accept book donations and then sort and price the books for the next year’s sale. This year, that process looks a bit different.
“We have been in and cleaned the facility as best as we’ve been able. We’re requiring any volunteer who comes in to wear a mask at all times, even when by themselves,” says Suzanne Kerlin, one of three volunteers who oversees the workshop and volunteers. “Social distancing is of utmost importance. If need be, we will limit the number of volunteers that are in the facility at any one time.”
According to Kerlin, many of the AAUW book sale volunteers are part of an older demographic, making precautions even more important.
“We’ve got gloves, we’ve got hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, etcetera, anything we can use to help us keep ourselves clean and virus-free. We have said, time and again, if anyone does not feel comfortable being around others, even with the social distancing, they should not come in,” she says.
Previous donors will notice their experience dropping off their book donations has changed as well.
“We will not let [donors] inside the facility. We will let them on the loading dock, but not in the facility at all; even though it [helps] us to let them carry their boxes of books in, we can’t afford to let them into where we price and sort the books,” says Kerlin, noting that, in the past, volunteers have allowed donors to tour the facility. “We can’t do that anymore. And we really do encourage people to wear masks.”
As for the donated books, volunteers now allow all donations to rest in a designated spot for at least 48 hours, before they’re moved on for sorting and pricing.
But what about all those books leftover from the sale that didn’t occur earlier in the year?
Kerlin explains that, at the time the sale was canceled, about 4,000 boxes of books had been processed, sorted and priced in preparation for the 2020 sale. Those books were sold to a dealer from Harrisburg. Many of the remaining books were then donated to local nonprofits and organizations.
As one of the AAUW State College’s major fundraisers for the year, the lack of a 2020 sale “absolutely” impacts the work the organization can do, says Kerlin, and book donations for the 2021 sale will help it continue its mission in the years to come.
“Our mission is to educate women and children and to support our nonprofits within the Centre region who support the education and wellbeing of women and girls. To donate books means that you are giving us resources to get the funds to donate to these nonprofits,” she explains. “Also, the money goes to scholarships for young women or women who have interrupted their educations and who are going back to university for an undergraduate degree. The book sale also supports this endeavor, too.”
The AAUW State College 2021 used book sale is scheduled for May 15–18 at the Snider Agricultural Arena. The organization is taking donations for the sale starting Saturday, Aug. 1, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., at the book processing workshop at 176 Technology Drive in Boalsburg.
Donations will then be accepted 6 p.m.–8 p.m. every Monday, and 9 a.m.–noon Tuesday and Wednesday, through Sept. 6, closed Labor Day. Tuesday and Wednesday hours are extended through 2:30 p.m. during the fall, Sept. 8–Dec. 23. Outdoor drop-off bins are available 24 hours, starting Aug. 1.
For a list of items that can be donated, visit aauwstatecollege.org/booksale/donations.html.
“We will ask people to wear masks and bring their donations to the loading dock,” says Kerlin. “It’s just so important that people understand we’re trying so hard to be safe and keep them, as well as us, safe.”