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Libraries lending volunteers for upcoming sale

Books and more books
The second Butler County Bookfest returns to the Butler Farm Show grounds May Wednesday through Sunday. Some of the proceeds from the massive used book sale will be put back into four Butler County public libraries. Submitted photo

It’s going to be a bibliophile’s dream: a gigantic used book sale stretching over five days and two buildings and featuring an estimated 150,000 books and other items. And some of the money raised will be put back into four participating Butler County public libraries.

The second annual Butler County Bookfest will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in two Butler Farm Show exhibit halls at 625 Evans City Road in Connoquenessing Township.

Some of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Mars, Prospect, Slippery Rock and South Butler Community public libraries.

Those libraries, in turn, will provide volunteers to unload two semi-trailers filled books, vinyl records, audiobooks, CDs and DVDs, and other items, set up display tables and signs, and help run the sale.

The books and other items come from Mr. Bookman, an online used book business with a brick-and-mortar store in Franklin owned by Christy and Ben Wilkinson.

Although Mr. Bookman doesn’t buy from individuals, the business picks up its inventory anywhere and everywhere.

“We started 12½ years ago with an online business as a hobby; then we started helping out libraries with book sales. Slippery Rock was one of our first,” said Christy Wilkinson. The Wilkinsons opened their Franklin store 18 months ago. And last year they staged their first mega-sale in Butler County.

“The growth and success that we have had has been very much dependent on our sorting system that we have been able to develop, and its helped to make it efficient in sorting and organizing all the books and media,” she said.

Developed by Ben Wilkinson, Mr. Bookman is in the process of patenting the sorting system. The goal is that nonprofits can eventually use the system to more efficiently sort and organize books and other media for their own sales.

In the meantime, Mr. Bookman is helping libraries with mega-sales.

“This will be our second Butler sale,” Christy Wilkinson said. She added sale browsers will also be able to pick up comics, magazines, games and puzzles.

“Participating libraries provided volunteers, and we give back to them. The more volunteers we have, the more we are able to give back to the libraries,” she said.

“Each library has a choice,” said Michelle Lesniak, director of the South Butler Community Library in Saxonburg. “Some didn’t want to send volunteers; some might be planning their own book sales.”

Lesniak said the four participating libraries should be providing four to eight volunteers per hour to help unload the truck, set up tables in the exhibit hall and sort books and other sale items into categories. She said this year the sale will expand to two adjoining exhibit halls to increase the amount of merchandise displayed.

Volunteers will be on hand every day of the sale to restock the tables and tally up shoppers’ selections.

“They’re going to be there to straighten the books, keep the tables stocked, help people find authors and just generally show a friendly face,” said Tiffany Frampton, director of the Slippery Rock Community Library, which is lending 10 volunteers to help staff the bookfest.

“We’ve worked with Ben Wilkinson with our book donations,” said Frampton. The Slippery Rock Library sends its patron-donated books to Bookman and receives a commission on the sales.

The sale drew crowds of book lovers last year.

“It was amazing,” said Lesniak of the attendance. “We were very pleased with it. I was there; I attended the whole thing, and the least amount of people in the hall at any one time was 50.”

She said the crowd at the sale ebbed and flowed much like patrons at her library: populous in the morning, a lot on the weekends and after a midafternoon lull, a lot after 3 p.m.

Frampton said, “We’re really excited. It was pretty successful last year, and it’s just going to keep growing.”

Book lovers attending the sale will have some choices to make.

Items will be sold at half price on Wednesday and Thursday, at 75% off on Friday and Saturday and $10 for a brown grocery bagful (provided) on Sunday.

“It’s a trade-off. Do people want the best picks or the best price?” said Lesniak.

But, she added, the mega-sale has so much inventory there will be something on every topic and genre through every day of the sale.

Last year’s gigantic book sale raised $4,500, which went to the Butler County unified library system. This year the proceeds will be split among the four libraries providing volunteers.

“It’s important for libraries in the county to help each other and make money for each other,” said Shari Hunt, the director of the Prospect Community Library.

“Any money that we get will be going right back into the library,” said Hunt.

“We have a really good friends of the library group here, the PLC Bookends,” said Hunt. “We are excited to be given this opportunity.”

Frampton said the bookfest proceeds are especially important to the Slippery Rock Library.

“Unlike other libraries in the county, Slippery Rock doesn’t get state or county funding,” she said. “Seventy five percent of our budget comes from donations.”

Frampton said she’s counting on bookfest proceeds to help pay employees and “keep the lights on.”

Caitlyn Boland, director of the Mars Area Public Library, said she was still recruiting volunteers to pull a few shifts at the bookfest.

“We’re looking for people willing to represent the Mars Area. The more volunteers we have, the greater percentage of the proceeds the library gets,” said Boland.

People willing to volunteer should email Boland at

Lesniak said she’s trying to round up enough volunteers to help with the setup and the sale.

“A lot of the Friends of the Library are older people. They are not into moving boxes,” she said. “We’re trying to find volunteers, Boy Scout troops, anyone who has time to spend a couple hours helping out.”

Those wishing to volunteer should call the South Butler Community Library at 724-352-4810.

The book sale will also feature audiobooks, vinyl record albums, comics, magazines and other media items for sale. Submitted photo
The 2002 Butler County Bookfest will expand into a second building on the farm show grounds this week. Submitted photo