Hello Book Thing friends!

A huge thank you to everyone who volunteered, adopted books, or donated books at our November event. We gave away nearly 4,200 books, more than twice as many as at our October giveaway.

This coming Saturday, Dec. 12 will be our last public book giveaway of 2020. Like all previous events in the series, this giveaway will be outdoors and is “pandemic and weather permitting.”  Please check before leaving home: if we have to cancel, it will be posted on our website and on Facebook.

Please note: We are NOT ACCEPTING ANY BOOK DONATIONS at this time. We held two book donation days in the fall of 2020. Our next donation day has not yet been scheduled, but it will probably be sometime in the spring. Details will be posted in the “Donate” section of our website when available.

As a heads up, we do not plan to hold a book giveaway in January.  Information about future book giveaways in early 2021 will be posted on our website and on our public Facebook page once it is available.

Book give-away: Saturday December 12, 9a – 2pm

This book giveaway will be held in the back parking lot.  Social distancing rules will be in place.  Here’s what you need to know.

  • Masks are required.
  • The event will be weather permitting. We will cancel for rain or freezing temperatures, but a chilly morning won’t deter us.
  • Book donations will not be accepted; please don’t bring us any books, magazines, or media on 12/12!
  • A parent may be accompanied by one (and only one) child, and every child must be accompanied by one adult.
  • All patrons must be through the line and signed out by 2pm. Depending on attendance, “last admittance” to enter the line may be as early as 1:15pm.
  • Books will be arranged in boxes spaced out on the ground in the rear parking lot by the mural. You will need to stoop and lift the books you want. A socially distanced line of patrons will advance through the array of boxes, giving everyone the opportunity to select books.
  • You will find three boxes of books per station. The mix will be approximately 15% kids’ books, 30% paperback fiction, and 45% unsorted books from other categories. Volunteers will refresh the books throughout the event.
  • Take as many books as you can, and distribute them to your family, friends, and community!
  • The building will be closed to the public. There is no outdoor restroom. Please plan accordingly.
  • Please dress for the weather. You get cold fast standing around in line. There will be no place to sit.
  • We will have boxes available to hold the books you adopt.
  • Try not to come as a group. If possible, send only one person from your household. We prefer to have just one person browsing at each station, but we can allow pairs of “quarantine buddies” (just not larger groups).
  • You will need to count your books and sign out when you exit.
  • Please get in line more than once and adopt lots of books!

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding.  We know you want to come inside.  We desperately want to let you inside, and we know you would adopt many more books that way, which would make us very, very happy. But our ventilation is poor and our shelves are very close together, so even if you might feel safe ducking in for 30 or 45 minutes in a limited entry format with all the usual precautions, our volunteers would be at a much higher risk staying all day to staff the event and restock the shelves. We won’t ask that of them, especially now with the US entering a 3rd wave of coronavirus infections.

News and updates

In case you missed it: we have our tax-exempt nonprofit status back!  This was a wonderful surprise, since we did not expect to hear from the IRS until next year.  What does reinstatement mean for The Book Thing?  Lots of people are already asking, so to be clear:  no, it doesn’t mean that we will promptly reopen and “go back to normal.”  For one, the pandemic makes that impossible!

But it’s not just the virus. When we shut our doors at the end of December 2019, it wasn’t because of any rules that told us we had to close 7.5 months after losing our nonprofit status. No, we went into “hibernation” because it was logistically and financially impossible to stay open as we had been. It’s a huge relief to be back in the IRS’s good book, but 501(c)(3) status doesn’t resolve the logistical and financial challenges of December 2020… which are both similar to and totally different from those we faced 12 months ago.

Getting our nonprofit status back is huge, but in many ways it’s just step one.  For example, only now that we have federal tax-exempt status can we start putting State matters in order… which needs to happen before we can apply for grants and seek out other sources of nonprofit funding. Once our finances are stronger, it will allow us to increase staff hours to support more frequent public book giveaways. Expect baby steps, not a rocket launch.

And remember: it takes personnel to move books! We’re talking in-person, on-site, hands-on labor. At our special opening last February, we gave away more than 20,000 books in 8 hours. It was a ton of fun giving away some 10 tons of books at a single event, but there’s no way we could sustain even half that level of activity every weekend on volunteer labor alone. Before happy patrons could find and adopt those books, volunteers handled all of them multiple times to stamp each one, figure out what it was about, and shelve it in the right section. The pandemic slows us down even more because keeping patrons, staff, and volunteers safe means restricting hands on deck to a minimum.

In the coming weeks and months, the Board will need to dedicate time and bandwidth to many new administrative tasks. We hope to move forward slowly on Board development. The efforts of our two part-time sales staff continue to keep the lights on. For now, all other functions — from management to operations to janitorial needs — are still performed by (unpaid) Board members and a few dedicated volunteers.  The organization remains financially fragile, but we are slowly working towards a sustainable future.  And we promise we’ll keep building one step at a time — what we can, when we can — to eventually get back to a level of normalcy.  Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support.

As always, please direct any and all inquiries to the Board of Directors via the Contact form on our website. Thank you to everyone who has written in so far to express interest in volunteering, serving on the Board, or helping with grant writing/fundraising expertise. We have not yet been able to make progress on these fronts, but we will reach out when we can.

With optimism and hope as we look forward to a new year, we wish you all the peace and joy of the season… preferably curled up with a good book!