Library’s book sale canceled again

Published 11:42 am Tuesday, January 4, 2022

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Readers will need to wait a bit longer to return to the annual book sale and fundraiser that has been a Washington tradition for more than 20 years. Katie Lake, president of the board of directors for Friends of the George H. and Laura E. Brown Library, announced this week that the group’s popular book sale has been canceled.

Last year’s event was also canceled, based on concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s decision was made because of the same community health concerns.

“We really thought we were going to have a book sale this year, and that it would be good. The Delta variant was starting to drop off. Then all of a sudden we’ve been hit with Omicron and it’s changed everything,” Lake said, adding that the decision was made out of a sense of special caution concerning the volunteers who sort, set up, and sell so many books that the event was moved to the Washington Civic Center 10 years ago.

“We get an empty Civic Center on Tuesday morning and it’s ready for the sale on Thursday,” Lake said of the group of volunteers who, this year, would have been been interacting with ever-growing attendance by people whose health status would not be clear as they browsed through two years’ worth of donated books. Lake said that, because of last year’s event cancellation, there are now approximately 20,000 books being kept safely in storage.

“We take the safety of our volunteers and customers very seriously. I’m sure everyone is disappointed, but that’s the way things are now. We need to be flexible, get through this, and make it to the other side,” said library director Sandra Silvey. “We had to figure out a way to engage with people without coming into the library and without contact,” Silvey said of the many adjustments made by staff members who she called “amazing” for their commitment to area readers, as well as the creativity regarding pandemic-related new programs, many of which are now part of the library’s regular calendar offerings.

“We will figure out a way to keep moving forward,” Silvey said of the library’s current challenges. Lake agreed, noting that Friends of the Brown Library directs its funds to library priorities including the summer reading program, payments for licenses needed to conduct online activities by adults and young library users, and supplies being used for the new archive area. She has also recently monetary donations from sources whose privacy she chose to protect. Lake said the board of directors has scheduled a meeting in early January “to talk about alternatives. We are still hoping for repeat appearances at the nonprofit table featured at the Marketplace. There is also a place in the library where we already sell books. We are open to suggestions,” she said.