“Monster Book Sale” Returns for its 20th Anniversary

The Sojourner Truth Library (STL) was filled with books (or, more books than usual) this past weekend as the Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library (Friends of the STL) hosted their “Monster Book Sale.”

The sale took place in the lobby of the STL, with hundreds of books organized by genre, including literature/fiction, biography, psychology, music and dozens more. 

“All the books are donated from faculty, retired faculty, staff, retired staff, current and former students and members of the community,” said Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Steering Committee of the Friends of the STL, Thomas Olsen. 

The sale has been running for the past 20 years, at least once a year. In recent years, the Friends of the STL have worked in collaboration with the Thursday Farmer’s Market to host smaller, sidewalk sales. Dozens of library employees, members of the Friends of the STL and student volunteers helped to set-up, run and take down the sale. 

“Our sales came to be because we realized that book donations could be a significant revenue stream and could help us provide funding for even more new purchases for the library,” Olsen said.

This year’s sale ran from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3. Along with books, the sale also included other forms of media, such as DVDs, LPs and video games. Most items at the sale were only $1-3, and all SUNY New Paltz students received a 50 percent discount off their total. 

The money raised from the sale go directly towards a fund created by SUNY New Paltz, which the library can pull from in order to purchase new books and resources. 

“Each year we underwrite the purchase of dozens of new books and we are a major underwriter of the JSTOR database and the Loeb Classical Library,” Olsen said. “Basically, we help the Library maintain a margin of excellence, even when state funds run low or are suspended.”

This year alone, Olsen predicts that the sale will raise around $3,000 for the fund. 

The Friends of the STL was founded in 1966. According to their website, the group “is an association of faculty, students, alumni, community and business persons dedicated to promoting and enhancing the Library as a shared resource.”

Each year along with the book sale, the Friends of the STL host various other programs such as exhibitions, public talks and guest lectures. 

“One of the reasons we have an excellent collection in our Library is that the since its founding, the Friends have raised close to $450,000 for the support of the Library,” Olsen said. 

Dean of the library Mark Colvson emphasized the impact that the Friends of the STL has on the library and the resources they have made available for students, citing both JSTOR, a research tool, and Kanopy, a video streaming service, as two examples. The Friends also provided access to the Loeb Classical Library, which Colvson described as “a collection of over 520 books comprising the complete known writings of classical Greek and Latin antiquity in print and digital format.”

“It’s likely that without support from the Friends, we would have either missed out on or delayed access to these resources and the expanded learning opportunities they make possible for our students,” Colvson said. 

Student memberships to the Friends of the STL are always available and cost $10. Members gain access to direct borrowing privileges as well as informational and reference services. 

The Friends of the STL are always accepting donated books and other materials. All small donations can be dropped off at the circulation desk at any time, while large donations can go through William Hennessey at the library.