Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Treasure trove
‘There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.’ — Walt Disney

by Ann L. Fouty

September 20, 2012

If it’s treasure you seek, it can be found in the 49th American Association of University Women’s book sale, Oct. 3 through 6.

Thousands of donated books in a multitude of genres have been collected, sorted, marked and boxed for the fortune hunters to scoop up. The money raised provides scholarships to women.

Members look at each book and fill between 400 and 600 boxes with how-to books, children’s storybooks, cookbooks, biographies, coffee table tomes, dictionaries, autographed editions, collectibles, past and current paperbacks and hardback novels.

More importantly, these university and college educated women devote their time so other women have the same opportunities they did — a chance for an education beyond high school. Money raised through the sale of thousands of books in the four-day sale, Oct. 3 through 6, at its new location, First English Lutheran Church, 800 Vernier, Grosse Pointe Woods, is set aside for scholarships.

This is not the sole fundraiser, just the major one.

Last year the group gave $10,000 in scholarships, said Ellen Chapin, the book sale’s chairwoman, and at least that much in previous years. The scholarships adhere to the organization’s mission: to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. And the majority of that scholarship money is raised by selling books — all donated.

“We had an overwhelming respond from three collection points which were emptied every day,” Chapin said of how the books get to the sorting point. “The community has been wonderful.”

Nancy Patek said the books are generated by people retiring, downsizing and from estates. Additionally, many come from those getting rid of too many books in the house.

Two mornings a week during August, organization members sit on folding chairs at different-size tables set up on a black-topped driveway shaded by noble trees with densely leafed branches. The books’ topics are as wide as those found in libraries and each woman “specializes” in one of 30 categories. For example Sandy Stanley looks through Michigan books, covering such topics as Michigan lighthouses, artists and history.

Children’s books are the works Mary Ann Lawlis sorts and who, on this day, was leafing through a Raggedy Ann book from the 1960s.

Each book is evaluated for its condition and pages are fanned. Some days, the treasures are found between the pages and those treasures tell a story.

“We check the condition of each book,” said Patek, who has been an AAUW member for five years. “Sometimes we find photographs, letters, news clippings. If it pertains to the book we leave it in. You never know what you find. This year I found photographs of someone who was young, then with a young man and as an older woman. You could see the progression and I don’t know who they are.

“If there is writing on the inside of the leaf we leave it. It can be quite endearing.”



auction items

Patek is one of women who research books for their value.

Collectibles are priced about a quarter of what the value is based on her online research, she said. The prices are generally less than $30.

“It’s pretty amazing the collection,” she said. “We have some gorgeous art books. The quality this year is outstanding.”

This year, 20 books have been selected for silent auction. Again, these have been researched. Bids generally begin about $200. Friday evening, Chapin opens the sealed bids and awards the book to the highest bidder.

Patek said these books range from children’s stories to the January through June 1914 National Geographic book, a book by Naturopathy, a Zane Grey book and two first edition Ross Macdonald books.

Book dealers and members with guests generally attend a special Wednesday viewing to peruse the books while background music is played and food is served.

“This works well for the dealers so they don’t have to stand in line. It is well attended,” Patek said.

Attendees on the remaining two days come by the hundreds.

“People do look forward to it. This is a great place for grandmothers to buy books for grandkids,” she said.

And why does Patek devote her time to looking through stacks and stacks of books?

“I’m just one of those optimists. It’s fun to search. I hope to find one of those $10,000 books. It hasn’t happened yet. I can hope. And it’s a very social thing. It gives us (AAUW members) a chance to chat. It’s very much a community thing.”