The Big Book Sale returns

Judging books by their covers since 1997. Holly Funk

The importance of this summer-long project and its impact on the community

Following a two-year hiatus, The Big Book Sale sponsored by the Seniors’ University Group will be switching back into gear this summer. Their 115 volunteers have put over 10,000 volunteer hours into the event, which will be held at the Highland Curling Club on August 18 and 19 from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and August 20 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Maria Reardon, a member of their publicity committee, explained that the sale started back in 2007 at the Mackenzie Art Gallery. Though they were grateful for the space there was not much to go around, and their stock overwhelmed their indoor capacity. “Outside for a book sale is not necessarily the best place to be, but we had lots of volunteers who would carry books out and then back again if it happened to rain.” 

The sale was later moved to a location on Scarth Street where space was still a concern. “We still had a few books,” Reardon noted, “so some very enterprising ladies – and its always ladies, I must admit, that sort of take the bull by the horns – they moved into the Tartan Curling Club. We had half the ice space there, and we did very very well.” Not long afterward that location closed, and the group found themselves between homes yet again, but found a lovely place to lay roots in the Highland Curling Club where they remain at present.

All materials available for purchase at The Big Book Sale are donated. “We will accept materials for all ages, fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels, comic books, games, puzzles, CDs, DVDs, and LPs.” Reardon noted, following up their wishlist with an outline of what they cannot accept: “Cassettes, VHSes, manuals, textbooks, encyclopedias, reader’s digests, condensed books, we won’t accept that. For magazines we only accept National Geographic and childrens’.” 

All proceeds from The Big Book Sale go to the Lifelong Learning Centre on College Avenue “to help reduce the cost of the classes so people can afford to take part, and we also have bursaries.” Reardon added. “The bursaries go to seniors – or, well, could be anybody over 50 – who would like to take a class but can’t afford it.” 

This aligns well with the intentions behind the sale, as Reardon outlined that their “reason for being is to supply funds for the Lifelong Learning Centre. We are going to celebrate our 45th anniversary this AGM in June, so we’ve been around for a while. I’ve been a member of the Lifelong Learning Centre since 1997, so that’s history for you. And that’s only a part of my life, but it’s been a wonderful, wonderful place for me.” 

In keeping with their vision of provision, books leftover at the end of their sale are donated to other organizations. Over 25 separate charities and groups have received these donations in the past, which Reardon explained includes groups like “the Aboriginal Grandmothers who also have a home in the Lifelong Learning Centre, or we can go to Carmichael Outreach or YWCA. It always depends on the number of books we have left over, and if they approach us. So, we might say ‘Okay, we can give you 500 books this time, but maybe not next year.’ so we spread our wealth.” Approximately 8,000 books per year are donated to The Book Project, Saskatchewan Jails. 

While there is still some time until the sale itself begins, volunteers are already hard at work getting the word out, coordinating the event, and planning how they’ll sort through all the donations to come. Reardon, a former donation sorter, said that “I used to do that, and it was fun, you know, because we’re all book lovers. We don’t get paid but we have first dibs, so we buy them and then bring them back the next year – I already have two boxes to take back!” If you, like Reardon, have a horde of books and the like, the group will be taking donations at the Highland Curling Club between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. starting on July 19. 


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