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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Friends Book Sale

By Grace Allen
After a year’s hiatus, the Friends of the Norfolk Library Book Sale is back. The popular event will be held at the Freeman-Kennedy School, 70 Boardman St. in Norfolk, on Friday, July 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. (Friends-only sale) and Saturday, July 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the general public.
The sale will feature close to 30,000 books in good condition, with most priced from $.50 to $3. This year, because of the pandemic, baked goods will not be sold.
The Friends of the Library are a group of volunteers who support and supplement library services through fundraising and membership dues. The Friends have been in existence since the 1970s.
Nanci Murphy, the president of the Friends of the Library, said last year was the first time the book sale was not held in its 20+ year history. The sale is the Friends’ biggest fundraiser, so the group’s coffers took a hit.
“Last year was really hard, but we decided to donate the same amount of money to the library that we usually do,” Murphy said. “It definitely made a dent in our kitty but that’s what we’re here for. The library provides so much value to the community, and that has still been true during COVID.”
Murphy went on to add that in the last year, the library averaged about fifty “to go” packages a day for patrons, containing anywhere from three to ten books each plus puzzles and games. Many programs for children and adults continued despite the shutdowns, pivoting to online formats.
The Friends continued to fund Hoopla, a digital media service that allows users to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, comics, and TV shows. Hoopla usage increased during the pandemic.
“I think everyone was wondering how to keep their kids entertained and the library became a key part of that,” said Murphy, who has served as the Friends’ president since 2015.
Book sale proceeds have also funded the library’s computers for patrons, staff computers, museum passes, self-check kiosks, special programs, and more.
Because the book sale was not held in 2020, the Friends held a series of small, outdoor sales at the library to keep the number of donated books down to a reasonable level. Along with cleaning out their bookshelves, people seemed to be buying more books online during the pandemic, reading them, and then donating them to the Friends, speculated Murphy.
“Norfolk must be a big town for reading, because the donation shed is full all the time,” she said. “And this year people donated really good books, newer books, best sellers.”
Books and other items at the book sale are cleaned and disinfected before being sold, Murphy noted.
Over 100 volunteers are needed to set up, staff, and clean up after the sale. On Wednesday, June 30, volunteers that can lift 25-50 pounds are needed to help transport tables and boxes of books into the school’s gym. On Thursday, July 1, volunteers are needed to unpack and organize the books on the tables. The Friends have dedicated cashiers for Friday and Saturday July 2-3, but book sorters are needed both days as well as clean up help at the close of the sale.
The Norfolk Boy Scouts are instrumental to the success of the sale, said Murphy. They assist with transport and setup and also help buyers carry their books to their cars.
“We live and die by the Boy Scouts,” she said. “They are amazing.”
The sale has been held at the DPW garage for many years, but Murphy says the new location in the Freeman-Kennedy School gym is bigger and brighter and air-conditioned. Sale visitors should avoid wearing hard-soled shoes that could mark the gymnasium floor, and no food or beverages will be allowed inside. Cash, checks and credit/debit cards will be accepted.
COVID precautions will include limiting the number of people in the gym to whatever number local officials and the state deem safe in July. At press time, Murphy noted masks will still be necessary (extra will be available) since the event will be held indoors on school property.
Matt Haffner, the Facilities Director for the town of Norfolk, said in an email that the Freeman-Kennedy School has a high-volume/low-velocity HVAC system that constantly exchanges the air in the gym.
“We have the system configured to nonstop bring in outside air and exhaust the inside air,” he explained. “We use high MERV air filters inside of the HVAC equipment. I can assure you we have an extremely healthy building. We house Norfolk’s most valuable residents (in my opinion) inside of the schools, and our student’s health and safety are paramount.”
Advertised as “worth the trip to Norfolk, the small town with the very BIG book sale,” the Friends book sale has been one of the most successful events of its kind in the area. The sale typically draws over 1,500 people, including book dealers from all over New England. Murphy hopes this year will be no different despite the challenging, ever-changing logistics brought about by the new location and the pandemic.
“It’s been an adjustment, but the town has been extremely cooperative,” she said. “We’ve had to rethink a lot of the ideas we’ve used before. But it will work out. We’ll figure it out.”
For more information about the sale and the Friends of the Library, visit Email [email protected] with questions or to volunteer at the sale.
Friends memberships can be purchased for $20 on Friday, July 2 prior to entering the Friends-only preview sale.