Pequot Library's book sale returns to Fairfield after COVID with thousands of items

FAIRFIELD — One of the most bountiful book sales in the region returned this week with a Spring Fling event.

Pequot Library, which is striving to raise extra money for an extensive roof renovation project that’s underway, is hosting its first outdoor book sale in over a year through Monday.

“It’s wonderful to be selling books,” said Betty Oderwald, of Fairfield, a veteran volunteer for more than 20 years, who was among those making it happen.

“Of course it’s a great library and it’s good to support it,” she said.

Around 10,000 items were on sale, including books of different categories, movies and music.

“The good thing about COVID is that books kept coming in,” explained Doug Fried, chair of the sale. “We keep putting out more books because we were blessed with a surplus of donations.”

With pandemic precautions still a necessity, the sale has a limited entrance of up to 30 people at a time to the big tent on the front lawn, despite its airy flow. People were asked to make appointments, but at least on the weekdays there wasn’t a significant waiting time for drop-ins, who could usually be admitted within a few minutes.

“We’re trying to be responsible,” Fried said.

Residents were happy to be back.

“It’s fantastic,” said Krissy Dingle of Fairfield, who brought her two-year-old daughter, Birdie, out to do some book shopping. “It was lovely to bring her in and have her choose her own books.”

Fried explained that the book sales have expanded from the original summer super sale to include two or three smaller ones held throughout the year, constituting big fundraisers for the library.

“One hundred percent of the sale goes to keeping the library open and keeping the lights on and getting the staff paid,” he said.

One-third of the library’s operating budget, approximately $350,000, comes from the town.

“The rest comes from endowments and supplemental donations,” Fried said.

More donations have had to be sought this year in order to complete the extensive roof replacement project, he said, which will cost more than $1 million and include some peripheral repair work, such as replacement of the steps.

“It hadn’t been repaired in more than 125 years,” Fried said of the original red-tile roof atop the structure that was built in 1893.

Roof funding has drawn some controversy during the budget process, as town bodies mulled giving $100,000 to the library for the project, matching a resident’s donation. Officials worried it set a bad precedent for funding a nonprofit’s capital project, while others said it was a unique funding opportunity and it was the largest not-for-profit the town works with. The historic building is also featured in the town’s marketing to help draw people to Fairfield.

“We wanted to make sure that we were able to keep it in the same style,” Fried said, noting completion is scheduled for June 1.