By DON AINES
6:54 PM EST, March 9, 2013
Half a century ago, the Hagerstown branch of the American Association of University Women held a book sale and raised about $1,200 toward construction of a new library.
That library now is being virtually replaced at the same site by a new building and, in the 50 years since that first sale, the AAUW has raised about $300,000 for the library and provided more than 600 scholarships, said Jeanne Stoner, chairwoman for this year’s sale.
On Saturday, about 40 women — and a couple of men — celebrated 50 years of book sales at the Founders Day Luncheon at Fountain Head Country Club. Stoner, co-chairwoman Carol Brashears and others spoke about April’s upcoming sale and their experiences over the decades.
“To be a mole was just a wonderful thing,” said Stoner, referring to the nickname of those who sorted, priced and boxed tens of thousands of books in a donated space in the Washington County Free Library.
Sales were held every two years until it became an annual event in 1976, Stoner said. In 1979, the sale moved to the fairgrounds, where it stayed for 17 years, she said.
The sale moved to the Washington County Agricultural Education Center in 1997 and stayed there for the next 13 years, Stoner said.
“The years were at the ag center ... Those were the years we made the most money with the book sales,” Stoner said. Some years, there were 50,000 or more used books for bibliophiles to peruse.
For a few years, prison inmates helped unload trailers filled with books for sales at the ag center, Stoner said. One woman in the group recalled how a volunteer mistakenly handed out box cutters to them, which upset the inmates’ supervisor.
Some books have gone through the sales several times as they were purchased and then donated for sale again, Stoner said.
The top year for sales was 2005, when $45,663 was raised, Brashears said.
In the past, people have lined up for hours before opening to get a chance at the best selection, she said.
The mailing list for the sale has been as high as 1,300, Brashears said, but the AAUW now is branching out to social media to spread the word.
“We are part of the fabric of Washington County,” Brashears said of the book-sale tradition.
The AAUW used book sale will be Thursday, April 18, through Saturday, April 20 at ARC of Washington County at 1000 Florida Ave. in Hagerstown. Sale hours will be Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Special finds” and old and rare books will be auctioned Thursday, April 18, at 1 p.m. On Friday, April 19, local authors are invited to display and autograph their work.
Books will be sold at half-price Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. “Bag Time,” when books can be purchased for $5 per bag, will be the same day from noon to 3 p.m.
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