Westport Library’s fall book sale offers warming experience like no other

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Anna Diorio ’23, Paper Arts Editor

Amid the rapid expansion of technology and media in the world, books and other tangible sources of information or entertainment still have a place in the Westport community. The Westport Library’s book sales play a large role in keeping the love of books alive. 

This past Columbus Day weekend, the library held another one of its periodic book sales, featuring its usual variety of gently used books in more than 40 genres, as well as CDs, DVDs, records, art and ephemera.

The entire event was headed by Volunteer Coordinator Judi Lake, who assigned jobs to the volunteers and orchestrated the functioning of the book sale. Lake has helped with the book sale for several years and continues to be a large supporter of the Westport Library.

“I just really want to help the library in any capacity I can and I’ve always really enjoyed being with the people that are involved with the book sale,” Lake said. 

Like most jobs, volunteering still comes with its difficulties. Through her many years of experience working at the sale, Lake has learned lessons that can be helpful to any volunteer at the book sale.

“You just have to be flexible. There’s a lot of different jobs and some are sitting, some are much more mobile, some are math oriented,” Lake said. “I try to match people with jobs that match their strengths.”

You just have to be flexible. There’s a lot of different jobs and some are sitting, some are much more mobile, some are math oriented. I try to match people with jobs that match their strengths.”

— Judi Lake

The range of volunteers that help out at the library’s book sales extends to many ages who all help out for multiple reasons. Carol Burgess, who was assigned to be a tallier (tallies the total price of a customer’s selected books), has lived in Westport for around 40 years and has been an active volunteer at the book sales for a long time. 

“I like volunteering. I’m retired and I have free time and it does get me connected to the community,” Burgess said.

Among the longtime Westport residents that volunteer, much of the sale’s success, according to Lake, is credited to Staples students and other teens in Fairfield County.

“We’ve had people here with Staples. We have SLOBS; we have NCL; we have National Honors Society; and B3; and it’s amazing and without their participation it wouldn’t be a success,” Lake said, insisting on recognizing the large contribution of teen volunteers. “We love all of the volunteers so anytime anybody wants to volunteer just have them contact me.”

Among those volunteers on Sunday was Emma Nordberg ’22, who was volunteering through the non-profit organization National Charity League (NCL). Nordberg found that, through her position as a sorter and organizer, volunteering came with some perks.

“It’s really great because I can look at all the books and then purchase some after volunteering,” Nordberg said. 

Another perk for teens that came with volunteering was the ability to do the job with friends. Nordberg worked alongside Elizabeth Kuehndorf ’22, who gained her position through the National Honors Society at Staples. 

“I think it’s just an easy way to get volunteer hours in and you also get to be with your friends while you do it,” Kuehndorf said. “It’s also just nice to help out people and direct them.”

Burgess and the sale’s volunteers noted the assortment of customers who attended the event.

“There are great people: Some of them are my neighbors, some of them are people from the town [and] some come from other towns,” Burgess said. “I’ve volunteered here for several years and the mix is always different but the same. Everybody comes.”

Norah Lee, who is a certified public accountant (CPA), had an experience at the sale that exemplifies the diversity of the books and other products offered at the event.

“I try to buy some children’s books for my baby and also just look around some books for myself,” Lee said, returning to the booksale for the second time. “Two years ago […] I was in law school so I was looking for some books related to law and accounting.” 

Of course, most people are just in search of a good book to get lost in. Aidan Hopfenspirger, a student at Smith Academy, has a simple, yet widely shared reason for coming to the library. 

“I just ran out of books to read so I decided to come here and try and find new books to read that I would enjoy,” Hopfenspirger said. 

Sophie Briand, who graduated from McGill University in 2017, feels that the Westport Library book sales simply offer a unique experience that can’t be found at regular bookshops, always having something for every age. 

“I love reading,” she said. “There’s such a great selection of books and they’re really good prices. If you go to other book sales or bookshops, they’re a little more expensive so it’s just a great deal.”