Friends of Algonquin library sale brings out bargain hunters

Aspiring secondary education English teacher Willy Stastny looks through books Thursday during the Friends of the Algonquin Area Library book sale. Between 25,000 and 30,000 books are for sale at the library through Sunday.
Aspiring secondary education English teacher Willy Stastny looks through books Thursday during the Friends of the Algonquin Area Library book sale. Between 25,000 and 30,000 books are for sale at the library through Sunday.

ALGONQUIN – Willy Stastny came to the Eastgate branch of the library district with two empty bags. When he walked up the stairs from the basement, the bags were full of books he purchased for a low price.

The aspiring secondary education English teacher loaded up on books he plans to have available for a classroom library and outside reading assignments.

“The books are so cheap,” Stastny said. “It’s really easy to justify buying more than you need.”

Stastny, of McHenry, was one of the 33 people to come through the doors in the first 20 minutes of the Friends of the Algonquin Area Library book sale.

The sales, which also take place in the fall and summer, help raise money for the volunteer group. The spring sale tends to be the busiest, said Kent Sprague, who coordinates sales for the group.

The first day of the sale attracts many teachers and book dealers looking to get good prices on books.

The 20-year-old Stastny, who will be student-teaching at Prairie Ridge High School in the fall, planned to spend about $40 on 45 to 50 books.

“These are mostly things I think the school wouldn’t provide, so I take it upon myself so students could have it without having to pay money for it,” Stastny said.

Thursday was the first day of the four-day sale, which is expected to attract 700 to 800 people.

On the first day of the sale, people looking to purchase books paid $10 for the privilege of being able to get the first pick of the 25,000 to 30,000 selections priced anywhere from 25 cents for children’s books to $8 for video games. 

There are fiction, biography, history, political science, religion, family, self-help, sports, crime, investing and travel books, among others. There are also CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes available for purchase.

The books in the sale are discarded materials from the library or materials donated to the Friends of the library, which started in 1991.

The sale in past years has raised $8,000 to $11,000, with the money donated back to the library.

Money from the sale has been used for scholarships, books to hand out during parades and equipment purchases for the library, including printers and a portable sound dock for digital music players.

“It helps the library,” Sprague said. “Also, all of us have great affection for libraries.”

The amount of book dealers that come in have been fewer and fewer over the years, Sprague said.

“It’s harder. It’s a tough racket,” Sprague said. “A lot are selling online.”

Book dealer Andrew Murphy, 21, of Milwaukee, wasn’t looking at titles as he scanned the bar codes of books. When Murphy saw he could double his money online, he put the book into his stack to buy and then sell online.

In the first 15 to 20 minutes of the sale, he scanned through hundreds of books. 

“I’m just looking up price and the rank,” Murphy said.

Not everyone was a book dealer or teacher.

Theresa Rekuc, of Algonquin, was sifting through the children’s books to read with her three kids, who are 3 years, 2 years and 8 months old.

During the sales, she spends $60 for two boxes of books, which are probably $200 worth of materials.

“I loved reading when I was a kid, so it’s important to have that instilled in them, and they have their imaginations go crazy,” Rekuc said.

Simon Zhao, 28, of Cary, spent $59 on about 70 books on economics, management and travel.

Zhao bought so many books that he had a volunteer use a dolly to bring his new reading material to his car. 

“I like reading books, and a lot of good books, don’t necessarily need to be new,” Zhao said. “You can’t beat the price of $1 per book.”

The Friends of the Algonquin Public Library book sale is scheduled to continue through Sunday at the Eastgate branch at 115 Eastgate Drive.       

Sale times:

• Friday: 4 to 8 p.m.

• Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. (All selections will be half-priced on Sunday).

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