ORLEANS — In banking terms, Snow Library welcomes withdrawals but has suspended accepting deposits.
With the Friends of Snow Library Room in the basement about to be renovated, there is no room to store donated books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, and the like. This Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Friends will hold its last book sale of the year in hopes of reducing its stores further.
Last week, Mary Mador, past president of the Friends, showed a reporter a mass of recently donated books and other media in the space behind the library's front desk.
“Members come in when the library is open to sort them,” she said. “Some for the sale, some for free (these are available in the entrance lobby), some have to be thrown away.” Some donations are so mildewed that “they could infect the library's own” books.
Some donations leave Orleans in UPS trucks. Better World Books pre-pays to ship 40 boxes to its collection center from Orleans every two months or so, and then sells them online or recycles them. “It's better than throwing them in a dumpster,” Mador said, adding that the Friends receives 5 percent of every sale.
Every little bit adds up. Mador said the book sales, which will resume sometime after the first of the year, bring in more than $15,000 annually. They're just one of many ways the Friends supports the library, including the popular Lifetime Learning series.
In the compact confines of the Friends Room downstairs, Mador summoned the memory of Margaret Ostro, who ran the book sales until shortly before her death almost two years ago. “She was a Brit,” Mador said, “a registered nurse.” Ostro, who spoke fluent French and some German, had a particular interest in European writers and directed book clubs, one devoted to the works of Neville Shute, who wrote “On the Beach.” She lived on Main Street and “walked to work” at the library, Mador recalled. “She taught me a great deal.” Ostro willed all her books to the Friends.
Some traditions Ostro started continue. A woman comes in once a month to buy children's books to take to Children's Hospital in Boston. “Margaret always gave her a deep discount,” Mador said. And at the town's July 4 parade, members of the Friends hand out free book coupons.
Used book dealers frequent the sales, and “they pay our prices,” said Mador. Among them are Tom Fuller, the selectman's brother, who attends the regular Saturday sales “like clockwork. Sometimes he finds something, sometimes not.”
In one corner of the tiny space, books being restored are pressed between boards. Every week, a few faithful volunteers donate their skills to rehabilitate damaged donations.
A carpenter friend of Ostro's donated many of the bookcases, but the shelves are not adjustable and can't be moved to accommodate the various sizes of modern editions. “We'll have these shelves taken apart and channels put in” for adjustable shelves as part of the renovations, Mador said.
Mador is encouraged by the prospect of much greater change for the library building. Last month, library trustees chair Cheryl Bryan, a former member of the state board of library commissioners, spoke with the selectmen and finance committee during their annual budget priority hearing for the next fiscal year. She said the town's funding of a building needs study is an essential show of support that will influence state decisions about paying for a percentage of any renovation and expansion project.
Noting interest in the library's endowment, Bryan said, “We know we have money, and we are expecting to be part of paying for that building project. When we come to you for money, there needs to be evidence of municipal support or we will not get that state grant.”