Friends of Henderson Libraries raise funds through Amazon store

The online program has raised more than $175,000 since it began in 2008

HENDERSON, Nev. – One day in August, a local online bookstore sold 53 books. And it’s safe to say the buyers of these books probably didn’t know their purchases would help the Henderson Libraries.

Since 2008, the Friends of the Henderson Libraries, a non-profit fund-raising organization, have operated a store on Amazon.com, where customers from all over the world purchase used books, audio books and DVDs. Operated by volunteers, all the money goes directly back to Henderson Libraries. Although the store is operated out of the Paseo Verde Library, the funds raised benefit all four branches.

Books to sell in the store are carefully chosen from hundreds donated to the libraries every year. Many of the donations are sold in the libraries’ used book sales, but the special books and other items are saved to garner a higher price online. They can be cookbooks, text books, collectors’ items and discarded library books as well as DVDs and special collections.

Although there are titles by the likes of Carl Sandburg and L. Frank Baum, most of the books available are nonfiction titles. Some of the most obscure titles sell the best. The most expensive book the volunteers ever sold was a book about Chinese porcelains – it sold for $734.

There are currently 1,350 items up for sale on the Friends’ Amazon store.

“It can be really obscure stuff. Sometimes will have a book that’s a piece of junk and it sells for $140. It’s a game, but when you’re good at your game, it’s a lot of fun,” said Laura Darnell, volunteer Amazon coordinator. “We’re re-pricing them constantly.”

Since the inception of the Amazon store nearly six years ago, it has brought in a total $175,868 for the libraries, with sales increasing over time. The first year, the store raised $8,793. So far, for 2013, the store has sold items to the tune of $34,168. In 2012, the store raised $49,229.

The increase comes from more donations as well as keener eyes focused on titles that will garner higher price tags from collectors or book aficionados.

“Some math and engineering books can be written in 1965 and still sell for $150,” Darnell said. “We may look through a lot of stuff before we find something of value.”

Whenever donations arrive, volunteers pick out titles and research their value online. Books are first offered to the libraries for their shelves, and the rest are added to either the used book sale or Amazon inventories.

“It’s a challenge to get it done right. It’s very satisfying to know the effort I’m putting in is helping to raise money for the libraries,” Darnell said. “The number one reason is to earn funds for the libraries. It’s fun when everything works out right. It’s a big service. All the libraries contribute heavily. A lot of people are really surprised we have this going on. It’s fabulous. It really is.”

Those interested in perusing the Friends of Henderson Libraries Amazon store can visit the website at amazon.com/shops/bevy_of_books.

The funds raised by the Friends of Henderson Libraries, including the Amazon store and used book sales, are included in two donations made by the group every year. The funds are designated and used for library materials, said Gayle Hornaday, assistant director for the Henderson Libraries.

“Being able to expand the market beyond our walls, and beyond the local community, has truly developed the potential benefit from selling the books we are donated,” Hornaday added. “The Amazon sellers also price their items according to the Amazon market and are able to earn much more for each item, as opposed to the in-library book sale prices, which are minimal.”

The Friends of Henderson Libraries has financially and publicly supported the programs and collections of the Henderson Libraries through charitable and educational activities since 1999.

The Friends was reestablished as a 501(c)(3) organization in February 2000. Fundraising, volunteerism and advocacy are the primary focus points of the group’s efforts.

The Friends of Henderson Libraries meets at 10 a.m. monthly on the fourth Tuesday at the Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway, near the 215 Beltway in Henderson.

For a list of monthly book sales, visit the Friends of Henderson Libraries’ website at hdplfriends.org or Henderson Libraries’ website at mypubliclibrary.com.

Established in 1943 as a single library in Downtown Henderson, Henderson Libraries operates four locations throughout Henderson. Henderson Libraries cooperates with other public libraries in Southern Nevada, the Nevada System of Higher Education, the ClarkCountySchool District and all other libraries around the state to provide quality service for Nevada’s residents.

For additional information on Henderson Libraries, visit www.mypubliclibrary.com or call 702-492-6581.

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