A Used-Book Book Fair

by Melissa Kazan, Upper Division Head Librarian at Horace Mann

Every year, the Horace Mann Parents’ Association hosts a used-book book fair for the Upper and Middle divisions. This annual tradition generates tons of excitement throughout the community for many reasons, mainly because families and employees can donate books that have been sitting around their homes forever and because people can buy books on the cheap. Prices this year were $2 for paperbacks, $3 for hardcovers, and $5 for textbooks/test prep books. During the final hours of the three-day event, there’s a “bag sale” – no, not a sale on bags – but $8 for all the books one can stuff into a bag we provide. To say that people get creative is an understatement.

The book fair also features a raffle for students and teachers (prizes are gift cards or items like AirPods, all donated by parents), as well as a flea market for previously-loved games, toys, clothes, etc. And one of the best aspects of the book fair is that we send leftover books in good condition to community partners, such as Riverdale Neighborhood House, Housing Works, local public school libraries, and educational programs for incarcerated people.

Arranging the book fair requires a decent amount of organization, communication, and (literally) some heavy lifting, so it’s essential to coordinate with your maintenance or buildings department. It’s also critical to have energetic and dependable parent volunteers to set up, break down, and staff the fair. As such, this event is a good collaborative moment between the library and parents, as we not only work side-by-side organizing the fair, but proceeds from the fair help fund various non-essential library needs. Last year, we used the money raised to replace the library’s worn soft seating, and this year we plan to purchase group study tables to replace some study carrels.

And last but not least, the used-book fair is a perfect destination for your library’s weeded books. It’s really a win-win situation!

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