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Love Those Book Bargains? Thank Her

October 1, 2018

This is the latest in The Sun’s “Be a Volunteer” series

By Amaris Castillo

acastillo@lowellsun.com

TYNGSBORO -- One by one, Maria Leger cradled used books in her hands and decided where they belong. By the door of the Tyngsboro Public Library’s Storytime Room were cardboard boxes filled with hardcover fiction books, and other boxes and Trader Joe’s paper bags throughout the space contained books ranging in genre from sports to self-help and religion.

“A Farewell to Arms,” Leger muttered to herself before dropping it into a box with other oversized paperback books.

Leger, of Tyngsboro, was sorting through books alone last Wednesday morning so those who attend the library’s upcoming fall book & bake sale can have a good experience. For nearly a decade, the volunteer has donated a great deal of time in the months leading up to the biannual sale. There’s no way to count the total of books she’s sorted through, but Leger estimates she has at times sorted up to 1,000 in one day.

“I like to help. I don’t need a job, so I enjoy doing this,” Leger, 51, said. “I know the library, you know, they don’t get all the funding, all the employees they need, so I can do this.”

Leger said she’s enjoyed organizing and keeping things neat all her life, which is something she strives to do for the sale. Hosted by the Friends of the Tyngsboro Public Library, the fall book & bake sale will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the library, 25 Bryants Ln., Tyngsboro.

“The room is set up a month prior to each book sale, which are held in May and October, and she just comes in day after day and sorts and sorts and sorts for us, and it’s just hugely helpful,” Library Director Susanna Arthur said of Leger. “She by far does the most sorting. We depend on her and you never know from one year to the next how many books are going to come in. We collect them throughout the year and, once that room is open, the donations are coming in fast and furiously.”

According to Arthur, along with books at the sale there will be CDs, DVDs, gently used jewelry, scarves, and Halloween costumes. Donations are being accepted through Oct. 19 and the library always appreciates volunteers on the day of the sale as well as beforehand with sorting.

When you’ve been sorting as long as Leger has, you pick up a few things. For one, she never judges a book by its cover. Just because it’s a hardcover book doesn’t mean it’s a novel, she pointed out, so you have to look at the back to see if it says “fiction” or “nonfiction.”

“Certain authors I do know, like Suze Orman, she’s all about the finance so I know to put it in there,” Leger said of the financial management section. “Or Dr. Phil, I know it’s a self-help (book) usually.”

Asked if she also attends the book sale after her work here is done, Leger smiled and said she has in the past.

“I probably almost put my hand on every single book that comes through,” she said. “Almost every single.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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