JCC Used Book Sale readies for 42nd year


Patrons of the Jewish Community Center’s 42-year old used book sale should take a good look at the building as well as the romances, thrillers, biographies, and cookbooks, Aug. 10-17, because it may be a while before they will see it again. Next year, the sale may take place in a temporary location as they build a new permanent home.

For now, however, visit the sale in the JCC’s Auditorium at the Carlyn H. Wohl Building in Creve Coeur. This year, organizers have collected more than 250,000 used books, which both serious collectors and casual readers travel to see.

“There are a lot of good childrens’ books this year,” Zelda Sparks, director of the JCC’s Cultural Arts department, said. “We’ve got literature and textbooks. Interestingly, we get a lot of families who homeschool. They come in looking for all kinds of things that suit their curriculums. Likewise, we are a good source for people who are in the used book business. We have dealers who come from all over the country.”

The sale opens Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. with a preview day. Shoppers, many of whom will line up before doors open, pay a $10 entrance fee.

Numbered line tickets will be available in the lobby as early as 8:30 am. Admission is free the rest of the week.

JCC staff member John Lesser coordinates a team of volunteers who help sort, price, and categorize books over the course of the year. They also compose the event’s staff, who stay on hand to make sure things are running smoothly. This year, the chair is Harriet Barenfeld, who has worked with the sale for more than ten years. Proceeds benefit the JCC Cultural Arts Department, which also caters to book enthusiasts with the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival in November.

In the past, charities such as literacy councils and nursing homes have collected leftover books after the sale. However, to facilitate an easier transition to a new venue, organizers have decided to make the sale greener by recycling the books they do not sell.

“We’re calling this a win-win situation. They are going to be coming in and depositing this huge, I guess it looks like a dumpster but bigger, where these books need to be deposited. They take it all away and recycle it. People are looking for books, and they need to get rid of books, ” Sparks said.

The sale will be closed on Saturday, but open all weekdays from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.. It closes at 2 p.m. on Friday, and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Friday is “half price day, ” which means all books sell for half their original price. On Sunday, people are invited to fill a bag with as many books as they can fit for $5.

“People have told us our sale is one of the best organized we have seen, ” Sparks said. “We have a lot of books this year. “