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A book lover's treasure-filled cellar

BRANDON-If you're a lover of old and gently used contemporary books, then you must check out the Brandon Free Public Library's basement book sale, located downtown, at the corner of Park and Franklin streets, next to the historic Civil War monument.

Being somewhat of a subterranean secret, the Brandon library's basement booksale is actually the grand dame of Vermont library booksales; it has been operating-nonstop-since the late 1950s. And while this modern library celebrated its centennial birthday in 2001, it can trace its ancestry back to 1827 when the town's first community library was known as the Neshobe Library.

Of course lending books and visual media, free-of-charge, to Brandon residents is its primary mission, the public library's staffers and directors were savvy enough to get in on a piece of the action by tapping into a growing pastime-hours spent browsing bookshelves for used treasures. Thus, this library booksale has remained popular with local bibliophiles and area tourists over the years.

Brandon's booksale, we learned, is primarily supported by a steady stream of out-of-circulation library books plus generous outside donations. This system seems to keep the library's cellar shelves stuffed with interesting used fiction, non-fiction, and children's titles. (You might also find a few unflagged first-editions, here and there, that are genuine bargains, especially when compared to the inflated prices at trendier used-bookshops.)

According to head librarian Stephanie Choma, this ongoing book sale helps fund new book purchases for library shelves upstairs.

"Used book sales fund our entire book budget," she said, "so we rely heavily on these sales to benefit the library and its patrons."

Choma said many residents and visitors donate their old books-tax-deductible of course-as Brandon librarians, like Lynn Wilson and others, add to the inventory with aging library books taken out of circulation upstairs.

The book sale is staffed by devoted volunteers including Eleanor Young who is credited for doing the lion's share of the used-book organizing.

With that said, now there's no excuse for sulking at home on a rainy weekday-and there are plenty of 'em this summer. If the Bard of Avon didn't say it, he should have: "Get thee to the Brandon Free Public Library Booksale!"

Visitors can browse the booksale shelves any time, year round, during regular public library hours (check-in at the front desk) or specifically during booksale hours, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

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