The post by Friends of the Hockessin Library began with an appropriately literary flavor.
“Though we have been able to make some lemonade from the lemons currently rolling around us, we have had to make some preemptive decisions that are a disappointment to us and to you,” the Nov. 7 Facebook post began. “Since we have no expectation that indoor environments will be safe enough for a large book sale, we will not be holding one in January 2021.”
“Wise decision,” Rebecca Dowling wrote on Facebook. “See you in the spring!”
For decades, the sale has found new homes for tens of thousands of books and related media, generating about $30,000 for the library each year, according to Susan Foster, president of the group’s board. The 2020 sale grossed $44,000 and netted $32,000.
The event drew dozens of dealers and readers willing to wait for hours for the opening night members sale, and many more for the next few days to Hockessin Memorial Hall.
Multiple factors went into the decision, book sale chair Linda Lauria wrote in the latest issue of Friends Focus. The most obvious was “the possibility that, at the time of the sale, a gathering of that size might not even be allowed.”
“Even if the sale could be held, it would be very difficult to get volunteers,” she continued. “Many of our longtime volunteers are particularly vulnerable and do not want to be exposed to large crowds at a time when an effective vaccine is not yet available. The participation of the Boy Scouts and our [Department of Correction] unloading crew could also not be guaranteed.
“Attendance was another consideration. With attendance close to normal, we could not enforce social distancing, especially at our Thursday night members sale. With attendance significantly less, the sale might not have much of a profit or even meet expenses.
“Alternate dates were considered, but those few times available from Hockessin Memorial Hall were either at a bad time (Easter weekend) or during prime rental season at a much higher rate.”
“We’d like to think that alternatives will be feasible later in the year and would welcome your ideas,” a posting on the group’s website invites. “Send them email@example.com.”
Since the hall can only display about 60,000 books, “it does not make sense to collect, sort and pay to store books that would not even make it onto the sale floor.”
So it’s suspending its donation drop-off Saturdays through February. When donations resume, it’s encouraging only items that other people will pay for.