'A great way to stock up': Westport Library host Memorial Day weekend book sale

WESTPORT — For book lovers across the region, The Westport Library’s Memorial Day Weekend Book Sale provided ample opportunity to indulge in their passion in a much more pleasant setting.

“I love the sale,” said Christine Meche of Ridgefield. “I come every year.”

An avid reader, Meche digested 83 books last year, including many memoirs and titles in the social science area. This year, she intends to top that, with 23 already to her credit.

“This is a great way to stock up,” she said, “and eliminate waste.”

The sale began Friday afternoon, filling the library’s new main hall with thousands of selections in a range of book categories, as well as an impressive selection of DVDs and compact discs.

After temperatures in 2019 had the enormous tent on Jesup Green that generally houses the warm-weather sale hitting over 100 degrees, she said the group sought an indoor venue. With the gradual loosening of pandemic restrictions these past months, the time was ripe to take the sale inside.

“This is so much more pleasant because it’s air conditioned,” said Jocelyn Barandiaran, president of the Westport Book Sale Vendors. “It’s better for our volunteers and it’s better for our patrons.”

Depending on how they do with donations — which they’ll again begin collecting on June 7 at the drop-off area in back of the library — they may set up another sale in the fall.

“I love all the variety,” said regular sale attendee Marilyn Smith of Westport, “and how very well-organized it always is.”

Earlier this year, the library opened the nonprofit Westport Bookshop just across the street, where six days a week customers are encouraged to browse a large selection of second-hand material, including a range of vinyl LPs.

“It’s going fabulously,” Barandiaran said, with the shop able to employee a growing number of adults with disabilities — an integral part of its mission.

“You can’t beat that,” said Sivan Hong of Westport, a sale volunteer who also serves on the library’s board. She praised the library’s, and the town’s, ongoing efforts to make this a welcoming community for everyone.

“I believe that libraries are at the heart of our democracy,” she said. “They’re the place where you can educate everyone.”

According to Judi Lake, volunteer coordinator, about 150 volunteers will have put in their time by the end of the sale on Sunday.

“They are amazing,” she said, with many having helped out in years past, but several dozen new volunteers, including members of the National Charity League, showing up this year.

“They come in with an open mind and they love books and the community,” she said.

Bill Chase of Westport, who has volunteered for the past five years, is one example, though he also considers himself a regular book sale customer as well.

“It’s a great place to get good value on books,” he said. “I’ve found some good buys here.”