It began simply.
About 12 years ago, Janet Kletke decided to be a volunteer for the Friends of Keene Memorial Library’s book sale.
“I was a middle school English teacher for 34 years and then I retired so I went to help the first year I was retired,” she said.
Today, Kletke coordinates about 200 volunteers for the annual sale which offers thousands of books at minimal cost with proceeds going to the group — which in turn — uses the funds to benefit the library in Fremont.
From 5-7 p.m. April 11, the friends group will have a pre-sale in the Christensen Field main arena, 1730 W. 16th St., in Fremont.
During the pre-sale, friends of the library members, whose dues are paid, can get first pick of the books. Members may renew their memberships.
Members of the public can become a friend of the library for the calendar year for $10 each.
Any individual, who doesn’t wish to become a member of the friends group, may enter the pre-sale for a $10 donation.
The public is invited to the general sale planned from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 12; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 and noon to 4 p.m. April 15 at Christensen Field. On April 15, attendees may purchase books at half price or a bag of books for $3 or a box of books for $4 all day, whichever is less expensive for the buyer. There is no limit. Credit card payments are accepted; $10 minimum purchase is required.
Kletke noted that even if people can’t make it to the pre-sale, there will be many good books from which they can make their selections.
“We usually have between 1,000 and 1,500 boxes of books so there’s still plenty of books left for people to shop on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she said.
Kletke noted the popularity of the annual sale, adding that people are lined up at the door when the sale begins and some even bring suitcases with rollers to carry the books they purchase.
Prices are modest for books, which can sell for $1 for a hardback and 50 cents for a paperback book.
Kletke said volunteer Judy Brant recalls a customer who was shocked that books weren’t organized in alphabetical order.
“That would be a big job when dealing with as many books as we have,” Kletke said.
Books at the sale are organized by subject, however.
For instance, cookbooks can be found in one spot and history books in another.
“You don’t have to wander if you want a book on travel,” she said.
There are sections for books on arts and crafts; religion; and biographies.
“It’s very organized thanks to the people who sort the books all year round,” Kletke said.
Kletke is organized, too.
She makes calls to get volunteers to unload boxes on the Thursday before the book sale.
On April 11, she plans to have 78 Fremont High School students from weight training and personal fitness classes carry big heavy boxes to the appropriate tables.
“They’re young and strong,” she said of the students.
Adults will take books out of the boxes and set them on the tables, getting them ready for the sale.
Kletke also recruits volunteer cashiers for that Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“On Sunday — when the sale is over — we need to clean up so I get people for that,” she said. “Right now, I have 20 people for cleanup.”
In addition, the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children has three cottages of girls who will come and help with Sunday’s cleanup.
Each of the girls will get to choose a couple free books.
“At the end of the sale, which will be 4 o’clock on Sunday, we box up the books,” she said.
In past years, someone from Omaha has taken the books for resale. Some very old and worn books are recycled.
Why has Kletke spent so many years helping with the book sale?
“The money goes to the Friends of Keene Memorial Library and then we have projects and that’s where the money goes,” she said. “We ask what the library needs and we can help out with their special needs.”
In the past, funds have been used to buy a new American flag for the library because wind tears the end of it, she said.
The friends’ website states that funds are used to support library programs, collections and its mission.
Kletke enjoys various aspects of the book sale.
She appreciates many people, including Helen Drumright, who brings sugar cookies for the volunteers.
“She volunteers every year and brings the best cookies — they’re wonderful,” Kletke said of Drumright. “We all love Helen Drumright’s cookies.”
Kletke enjoys seeing the smiles on the faces of people who’ve found a book they’re going to treasure.
And Kletke likes “when the little kids are sitting in the aisles reading and not wanting to leave the book sale. Their parents must be reading to them at home – and that’s a very good habit to start.”