March 3, 2024

Rare Books, Rare Sale

A one-of-a-kind book sale for collectors, history buffs, and nonfiction bookworms
By Ross Boissoneau | May 4, 2019

Book sales at libraries are nothing new. They typically include, among other things, books that were donated but don’t meet the library’s needs.
That is sorta, kind of the case for the Friends of the Traverse Area District Library’s upcoming sale of rare and vintage books May 10 and 11. Yes, the books were donated, but it’s hardly the books-as-usual sale dominated by fiction and familiar titles.
These sales are the result of two sources: the first, a rare purge of the library’s attic and other longtime storage spaces. “Some [books] are from the late 19thcentury,” said Margaret Monsour, thechair of the book sales committee. Others date from the middle of the 20thcentury to more recent days.
She said many are very valuable, and all have been wonderfully cared for. “It’s rare that these kind of books go on sale to public. Some have never even been displayed at the library,” she said.
The other part of the sale is a collection of books from an area bibliophile. Upon retiring and moving from his home to a smaller apartment, local attorney and law professor Steve Morse contacted the library about giving the library some of his books. “He was downsizing and said he was interested in donating,” said Monsour.
So she went to his home to see the books. Maybe if there weren’t too many she could even take them back then. Hah.
“I thought maybe there would be five boxes,” she said. He ushered her into his office, where “There were bookcases from floor to ceiling.” Plus books in his basement, living room, dining room … more than she could take back even in multiple trips.
She enlisted the aid of others to assist and went back. “I got eight people to volunteer to box them up. It took eight people in four cars two trips. There were over 3,000 titles, all just one-owner,” Monsour said.
Also making this sale unique: The vintage books sold during the event will cross many different categories, but while such sales are generally filled with fiction, this group of books is mostly nonfiction. They’re being sorted into various categories: biographies, history, literature, law, architecture, even poetry. There are also many first editions. Among the titles: Edward Gorey’s Blue Aspic; Watson Hamlin’s Legends of Le Detroit; Laura Halloway’s Ladies of the White House; Ursula K. Le Guin’s Very far Away From Anywhere Else; Andersonvilleby John McElroy.
Monsour said it’s important to note that this is not the typical library book sale and doesn’t take the place of the one TADL holds each September. Which brings the question: Why this sale and why now?
Her answer was straightforward. “We’ve run out of space,” she said with a laugh. Plus she said they wanted to determine the value of the books.
The sales take place 9am to 5pm May 11 at the Traverse Area District Library’s main branch location, 610 Woodmere Ave. There will be a special pre-sale for Friends of the Library 6pm to 8pm,  Friday, May 10. You can become a member of the group for $15 a year anytime, including at the door of the pre-sale. 


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