It takes a village to raise a child.
And it takes a small city — well, 300 to 400 people anyway — to run the Westport Library’s annual Book Sale.
The tents are already up for the July 15-18 event. That’s done professionally.
A typical scene at the Westport Library Book Sale. (Photo/Westport Library)
But nearly everything else — hauling boxes, unboxing books, shelving, signage, on-site help, line control, security, checkout, cleanup and takedown — is done by volunteers.
They converge on Jesup Green from all corners of town (and beyond). They come in all shapes and sizes (and ages). They represent the Y’s Men, Staples Service League of Boys, National Charity League, the Gillespie Center and a local addiction recovery house.
Some are giving back to their community. Some are performing court-ordered community service. Some love the library, or books in general. Some welcome a chance to socialize.
All are welcome.
One of the book sale’s many volunteers.
Mimi Greenlee is the longtime c0-chair of the Book Sale. She’s also one of those uber-volunteers who epitomize the saying, “If you need something done, ask a busy person.”
Since moving here in 1971 with her husband Chuck, Mimi has raised 4 kids; taught at Burr Farms Elementary School; served with the Westport Young Woman’s League, United Way, Westport Soccer Association and a slew of PTAs, and run the Westport Downtown Merchants Association art show.
Still, the Book Sale is special. It’s a true community event, with that huge volunteer/collaborative component.
“It’s like a puzzle. I love watching the pieces come together,” Mimi says. “And every piece is a person.”
Nothing ever rattles Mimi Greenlee — not even the controlled chaos of the Westport Library Book Sale.
As the book sale grew — from one tiny table in the McManus Room, to an outdoor tent, to the many tents now on Jesup Green — so did the need for help.
Suzy Hooper gets the volunteers for the 9 days it takes to set up, run and take down the event.
There’s a job for everyone. Some of it is very physical. (“Those Y’s Men put me to shame,” Mimi marvels.)
Some can be done sitting down — even in a wheelchair.
Mimi, Suzy and the library staff have it all down to a science. Last year, it took just one hour from the end of the sale Tuesday, until everything was packed away.
“We get everyone,” Mimi says. There’s a man from New Canaan who arranges his travel schedule every year to do this. There are people who volunteered when they were living in the homeless shelter just across the way. Now they’ve got housing, but they still want to help.”
Mimi invites everyone to the book sale. It starts Saturday, July 15 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); continues Sunday, July 16 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Monday, July 17 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., half-price day), and ends Tuesday, July 18 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; everything is free, but contributions are welcome).
And if you’d like to volunteer on the sale days — or help with the book sorting process throughout the year — just email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here.