Washoe County libraries have some very dedicated advocates in the Friends of Washoe County Library, a nonprofit group of volunteers who work year-round to raise money to support what many view as one of the community’s most precious resources.
The Friends sell books to raise funds for the library system and last year gave $100,000 to county libraries.
The group’s first book sale of the year will be held at the warehouse located at 125 Gentry Way, in the rear of the building, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The members preview is from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday.
“In these tough economic times, Friends book sales are great opportunities to take advantage of a wide selection of inexpensive books, movies and music, and at the same time help the library,” the Friends website states.
Book sale manager Betty Watts said most books are 50 cents or $1; nearly new books cost up to $6; vinyl records are 50 cents; VHS tapes are $1; CDs are $1.50; and DVDs are $2.
“Collectible books are individually price, but are still reasonable,” Watts said. “We also have a lot of Nevada and the West books, auto repair manuals and Basque books.”
Watts said about 60 active volunteers sort donated books all year, and monthly sales are held at the warehouse the second weekend of each month. Larger sales are held at various locations throughout the year, and all proceeds go to the libraries.
“The volunteers work so hard,” Watts said. “They’re just a good, cooperative group.”
Watts said anyone looking for a good deal on books should attend one of the sales.
“If you’re a reader, this is the best place to buy books,” she said.
Last year, $350,000 in budget cuts forced Washoe County Library System administrators to make some tough choices. Rather than close any of the county’s 13 libraries, they chose instead to reduce hours of operation and cut staff members.
For many people, public libraries are the only place to go to use a computer or find information in a book. Children of families that cannot afford the Internet or books use libraries to do homework, and unemployed people use library computers to look for jobs, fill out applications and check e-mail.
Library board member Fred Lokken said while he understands the challenge of divvying dwindling budget funds, he believes libraries are invaluable to the unemployed who are seeking jobs. He said libraries offer free Internet service and many library workers have become “job coaches,” helping patrons use library computers to apply for jobs.
According to library board Chair Judith Simon, the library system is down to bare bones with staff members and already is maximizing the use of volunteers.
Further budget cuts could mean further cuts in staff and hours, and could result in the closure of some libraries. The Friends of Washoe County Library do not want to see this happen, Vice President Lucina Moses said.
Anyone who wishes to donate to or join Friends of Washoe County Library can find more information at www.washoelibraryfriends.org.
“We offer the community a chance to invest in the success of the library by donating funds or volunteering,” the Friends website states. “We raise money and our voices to ensure a first-class public library for Washoe County residents. … (We are) a collection of committed and caring friends, committed to a shared vision of a free public library that will remain accessible to all for generations to come.”