Irie Cheng, 3, and her sister Taylor, 5, helped their mom Dannelle Cheng find books yesterday at the Friends of the Library book sale in the McKinley High School cafeteria.

Sale still booking

Reading aficionados flock to
the Friends of the Library sale

Sure, the books are fantastic.

But it's the people -- first-timers and regulars, alike -- that have drawn Carol Schaafsma back year after year for a decade to volunteer at the annual Friends of the Library used book sale.

Book Sale continues

The 58th annual Friends of the Library of Hawaii book sale continues daily through Saturday.

Place: McKinley High School Cafeteria
Time: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through July 15; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 16
Call: 536-4174

After all, Schaafsma said, while taking a short break yesterday, there's something magical about a grown man giggling with glee over his literary finds, teenagers poring over thick texts and parents carrying their babies to fill buggies with books.

The book sale -- the largest of its kind in the United States -- started yesterday morning at McKinley High School cafeteria, and lines were at the door through much of the day as volunteers slowly let shoppers in as others left.

The cafeteria's 500-person capacity, organizers said, was maxed out from 10 a.m., when the doors opened, into the late afternoon.

"Everybody just seems to find treasures here," said Schaafsma, her eyes bright as she looked over the cafeteria -- packed with lines of people and tables of books.

This is the 58th year for the book sale, which raises money for the state's library system. In 2004, the sale brought in about $100,000 and the nonprofit expects to get about the same this year.

Byrde Cestare, Friends of the Library executive director, said the sale takes about 500 volunteers, 3,200 boxes of books and lots of planning to put on.

It's grown considerably from the first Friends book sale in 1947 -- an auction which took place on the front lawn of then-Gov. Walter Frear's home on Punahou Street, which raised about $400.

Since 1952, when the Friends started keeping good accounting records, the book sale has raised more than $5 million for Hawaii libraries.

"Everybody knows that you can come here and get a good bargain," said Cestare, who got hooked on shopping at the sale before she started to volunteer. Most of the sale's books are cheap, but some rare books -- including first editions from the 1800s -- sell for $200 to $400.

Leona Moir of Honolulu perused a selection of fiction books at the 58th Annual Friends of the Library of Hawaii Booksale at McKinley High School's cafeteria yesterday.

The sale goes through Saturday, with doors open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Malia Hieb, a college freshman back home for summer vacation, wore a wide smile yesterday as she left the book sale with a friend by her side and two hard-cover Agatha Christie mysteries in hand. She spent $8.50 on the books, and a lot of time marveling at the size of the sale.

"I think it's so cool," said Hieb, who grew up in Hawaii but had never before made it to the event. "I'm stocked up ... for the summer."

John and Anna Chung got a box of books yesterday and plan to come back for more later this week. The couple have hit the sale together for more than a decade. "It's the thrill of finding a cheap book," Anna Chung said.

Her husband, who was carrying their books, nodded enthusiastically.

Nearby, Radah Butler balanced her books on a guard rail as she took a breather after making her way through McKinley's cafeteria. The University of Hawaii student said the last time she'd been to the sale was when she was 8.

"It hasn't changed that much," she said, as she picked up her purchases and headed home.

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