Friends of Washoe County Library

Friends of Washoe County Library, P.O. Box 2151, Reno, NV, 89505, 327-8360

Early in my life, trips to the library were equivalent to treasure hunts. I could be found curled up in a corner, surrounded by books containing the stimulation that my mind needed.

To this day, reading remains a key component in my life. When my mom, sister and I get together, we bring bags of books to swap. Usually, these are books we bought at the bookstore giants; not only are we sharing information with one another, but we are saving each other a buck or two.

Recently, I learned of a book sale that’s put on by the Friends of Washoe County Library. Volunteers organize over 75 tons of books to sell at these book sales, which occur three times a year. Members of the community donate these books to be “recycled” into new homes.

After learning of the upcoming book sale March 17-18, I decided I wanted to learn more about these people who help to extend the life of information. Some members of the Friends of Washoe County Library simply pay a small membership fee to help sustain this program’s events throughout the year, while others both pay the fee and volunteer to help in these events. More than 1,000 members financially support the program, and 150 are active volunteers.

I sat down with the president of the organization, Lois Crocker, and the Washoe County Library liaison, Sharon Honig-Bear, to discover the effect Friends has had on the community. As I soon found out, Friends is an amazing volunteer group that deals with my favorite pastime: reading. In addition to the book sales, the group runs Secondhand Prose, a bookstore and gift shop located in the Northwest Reno Library. They also hold an annual silent auction of rare and antique books and work to build upon the library’s goal of becoming a bigger part of the arts and cultural community of Reno.

The main thing I was interested in was the book sale, and Honig-Bear described the volunteers at the book sale as “matchmakers.”

“The last day of last June’s book sale, there was a Vietnamese-English Dictionary. A big, fat book,” she said. “Every year, we look at our selection criteria—what we’ll save, and what we won’t. Well, here was this Vietnamese-English Dictionary, and I said, ‘Oh, maybe we shouldn’t keep it.’ I mean, what’s the chance someone’s going to come for it? And it was like a divine inspiration.

“At that moment, a young Vietnamese man, probably in his early 20s, came up and asked how much it was,” she said. “He told me his mother was trying to learn English, and I was thrilled that there was someone that it would be useful for. So no matter how odd or esoteric it seems, we have created enough of an event that most of these books find homes.”

If you don’t plan to attend the next book sale, drop off some of your old books at any Washoe County Library location. The book sale is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 17 and from noon to 2:30 p.m. March 18, with a bargain hour following from 3 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 327-8360.