The Friends of the Benicia Public Library monthly book sales speak volumes about the town’s support of its library. So many volumes in fact that the group is closing in on the $1 million mark. Just to be clear, that is $1 million raised through the sale of 50-cent paperbacks, $1 hardbacks, and $5 bags of books over the last 23 years. “It’s quite an amazing thing,” said Carole Nail, Friends president and library board trustee. The hope is to reach the milestone by June. Book lovers and library supporters can help by shopping at a book sale or by buying a membership.

Each dollar goes to the library to be spent at the discretion of the library director, Nail said.  In recent years, nearly $70,000 raised annually has paid for children’s programs, concerts, summer reading programs, books, equipment and other items. By contrast, some $13,115 was raised in 1994 when regular monthly sales began in the new library, Nail said. The large basement is key to the success. The sales area resembles a large bookstore with aisles, shelves and long tables for non-fiction, children’s and teen books. The fiction area is divided into literature, mystery, science fiction and other categories. The premium section features newer books and cost more.

Throughout the year, 35 volunteers sort and shelve, and are on hand during the sales. If a volunteer recognizes something extra special in a donation,  that book may be sold online for a larger price, said

Benicia Public Library basement houses used books for sale at their monthly event.

Lisa Duncan Photography

Used books in the Benicia Public Library Basement

Nail. More than 300 people are Friends’ members and have first crack at the selection Thursday evening before the sale.

Once the $1 million mark is reached, Nail said the library will have a reception to thank the volunteers. Special kudos will go to Ron Arrants, chair of the book sales committee since 1996. “Without him there would be no book sale,” she said.  Other volunteers are also vital, as are the people who donate books and those who come to shop. “The whole thing is a very collaborative, synergistic event. It’s a huge collaboration,” she said.

Monthly book sales take place 10am – 4pm, April 8, May 13 and June 10, 10am. Memberships can be purchased during the sales or at the members-only sales, Thursday evenings before the public sales. Books can be donated during regular library hours, or can be purchased during monthly book sales. For more details go to