UNO used book sale

Vinicio Hernandez, News Editor

From Thursday, Nov. 7 to Saturday, Nov. 9, the Friends of the UNO Library will hold its seasonal Used Book Sale on the fourth floor of the Earl K. Long Library. Advertised as a sale with “something for everyone,” the semi-annual book sale houses a range of books each semester, from science fiction to history, short fiction to novels, art books and philosophy, and many genres in between. Sold at far below the expected price, most paperbacks run for only a dollar. Most hardbacks go for two dollars, excepting special or uncommon editions.


The Friends of the UNO Library raise funds for the Earl K. Long Library through these book sales. Their 18-member Board of Directors includes retired UNO faculty or alumni, as well as active and retired staff of the library. The Friends receive book donations from anonymous donors across the year, working with up to 60 dedicated members to collect books around the city. Unlike most used-book sellers, however, the Friends take calls and offer to pick up boxes of books from the donor’s location to return to the library, resulting in a larger stock from which the public can later choose. 


Among these Friends is Dana Criswell, UNO alumnus, editor of the Driftwood back in the 1970s, and proud employee of the library for the past 23 years. In 1977, she recalls, the Friends of the UNO Library set up their first fundraising event by selling hot dogs at UNO’s April Fest. As fundraising events continued annually, the Friends eventually turned instead to selling used books. In a recent article authored by Criswell to promote the upcoming book sale (quoted here with permission), Criswell describes the “thousands of dollars” raised by the Friends annually, used for “library materials, special equipment, program improvement, and to help support staff development.” Criswell’s comments, beyond her article, ring true: in the past year, after accepting credit cards at book sales, the library has raised an estimated $8,000 each semester. The Friends utilize the funds received to help the library make purchases beyond its yearly budget to improve its status as a research institution. One year the Friends funded the library’s purchase of a server dedicated to Louisiana Supreme Court records housed in our Special Collections also on the fourth floor. These funds also sponsor guest speakers who present in the library, including appearances by local authors as a part of their “Meet the Author” public lecture series. Further fundraising comes one day every August from the Ye Olde College Inn (3000 S. Carrollton Ave.), in which 20% of all dining receipt proceeds are sent to the Friends of the UNO Library.


Where do most donated books come from? The “wonderful donations,” Criswell remarks, are often from the generosity of families who must clear out a relative’s library once he or she has passed away. Most special collections donated to the UNO Book Sale come in this way. Over a year ago, upon the death of an Art professor at Louisiana State University, the professor’s widow donated his pristine collection of rare art books to the library. Though most have by now been sold, Criswell’s gratitude extends far past the day those books fly off their shelves. 


For this upcoming November book sale, Benjamin Franklin High School’s (2001 Leon C. Simon Drive) library has donated their entire stock to the Earl K. Long library, much of which will be up for sale next month. UNO has received a “large collection of reference books” from the high school’s library, Criswell says. 


What books do the Friends mostly receive from the public? “Mystery and detective fiction,” Criswell continues. “We receive more of those than we can sell.” Of those who often visit, Criswell notes that many come looking for books on local history, and that many come in to comment on what hidden gems they discovered — books sought after by some for months, sometimes years, are found lying neatly on a table. Others come upon books here that can go for $40 or more in online stores at the lowest prices around.


The Used Book Sale will take place on Thursday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ($5 admission required during the first two open hours, though these sales are always free to UNO students and members of the Friends); on Friday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (free admission all day); and on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (free admission all day). 


To keep up to date with the Friends of the UNO Library, Criswell invites the public to follow their Facebook and Instagram pages at “Friends of the UNO Earl K. Long Library” and “UNO_friends_of_the_library” respectively.