Used book fair raises money to benefit students

The annual used book fair pulled in less money than last year, but the amount is enough to bring the total collected amount over the last 14 years to $100,000.

Co-ordinator Susan Hawke estimated this year’s amount at $8,500, significantly less than last year’s $10,300.

With a few minutes left before 7 p.m., Hawke had to sternly clear the Library atrium of straggling book buyers before the annual used book fair closed up. She made sure that students rummaging through the leftover books didn’t make a huge mess, which has caused problems in the past.

It’s a “stressful” job, said Clarke, who does it on her vacation time. The counselling and development librarian, who has been with the university for 31 years, has also worked the fair for 12. The initiative began 14 years ago under Barbara Barkley, “the grandmother of the fair.”

The work is done by a core group of 12 volunteers who are mostly Concordia employees, explained Hawke. “We think it’s a good idea. We don’t report to anybody. We’re not a part of any department. We just do it on our own time.”

The group meets once a month during the year to plan the fair, and then they hold it for two days during the fall semester, with one day to set-up, and another to tidy up. The Concordia bookstore lends the volunteers old cash registers, and they set up rent-free.

As for the books, most come from employees, alumni, and people who are moving, while the money collected goes back to students through the multi-faith chaplaincy and a scholarship.

“It’s actually a three-way win situation in the sense that people find a place to give books that they want to get rid of, it’s a worthwhile cause, and students find a really cheap places to find books,” said Clarke.

Rows of books were still left over at the end of the two-day fair. “We don’t really dumpster it any longer. We’ll give it away free,” said Clarke, which has added up to a couple of thousand of books over the years. “It may sound kind of corny, but it’s almost like I think of them as little people or orphans and I want them all to go to a good home.” Some are saved for next year, and others go to Books to Prisoners, another campus group that redistributes books to penal institutions. Children’s books and resources on parenting will go the the new Student Parents Centre.

One satisfied shopper was fourth-year film student Christine Deita, who needed fellow students to help her carry out four boxes of books out of the building. She was not just picking up books for class, but to add to her growing book collection. “I like the fact that it’s helping other students, I like the fact that I find books that are interesting. It’s a shame that there’s too many. I let myself leave a few.”


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