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Your Donated Books Provide Thousands of Pesos for Biblioteca Programs

By Jan Davis

Kathleen Ellsworth can attest to the power of a book donation. For the past 10 years, Kathleen and her team of volunteers have spent hours sorting through book donations and determining which are added to the Biblioteca’s collection and which are sold. This is no minor task and an important one for the library.

Despite the increase in popularity of e-readers, print books are still in demand. During the period April 2016 to February 2017, used book sales in Tesoros, the Biblioteca gift shop, and special books sales throughout the year totaled over $85,000 pesos—all of which goes to the purchase of books in English and Spanish. The $85,000 pesos figure does not include the Thursday book sales, the proceeds of which go the scholarship fund. “The used books sold in Tesoros have boosted our sales and have provided daily access to books for tourists and residents,” Kathleen remarks. In fact, it is one of the few places to buy good quality, used English-language books in San Miguel.

Not all donated books are sold. Some, especially those with positive reviews and on subjects of interest to the community, are added to the Biblioteca’s collection. In addition, the English book committee of 10 volunteers ensures that the Biblioteca has an outstanding collection of English- language books. The committee collects nominations for book purchases from Biblioteca members and consults many sources for reviews, such as Kirkus Review, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, the Guardian, and the New York Review of Books. “We always buy the New York Times Best Books of the year,” says Committee chair Judy Rosenthal.

In preparation for the Biblioteca’s Book Drive this month, I asked Kathleen what types of books make good donations. “Current books, best sellers, and award winners, along with art, architecture, and photography,” she says. Nevertheless, Kathleen doesn’t want to discourage donations just because they may not be current or popular. Old, wet, and worn-out books are not good donations. Monetary donations, especially from local book clubs, are always welcome. “We have three clubs that donate money regularly for the purchase of new books.”

Sorting through book donations can provide some surprises. Kathleen says the strangest book she’s seen is one on noses. She knew it would one day sell, and it did. On more than one occasion Kathleen has gone through boxes of books that were accidently donated, such as one containing personal and ancestry-related items. She found the donor, returned the items, and received a box of chocolates for her efforts.

Kathleen credits her team of hard-working volunteers for the successful book sales. “I wouldn’t get anything done without them,” she says. They spend hours on the sorting, preparation, and shelving of the books.

The Biblioteca’s Book Drive runs from April 14 through April 24. Please bring your donations to the Biblioteca reception desk. If you have boxes of books, call or e-mail Jan Davis to schedule a pickup. 415 118 1420,


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