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After more than 40 years, YMCA ends used book fair

After more than 40 years, YMCA ends used book fair

Bibliophile bonanza!

A full room of bibliophiles amble through tables and tables of books on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, at the first day of the 38th Annual YMCA Book Fair at Greensfelder Recreation Complex in Queeny Park. The fair continues through Tuesday from 9am to 9pm. On Monday, all books are half-price. Tuesday, book lovers can fill up any box they can carry out for $10. Proceeds benefit Y Community Literacy and youth programs at the Carondelet Park Recreation Complex and Washington University Campus YMCA. Photo by Christian Gooden,

There are no more chapters for the YMCA book fair. Canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it won't be back. Last year would have been its 42nd annual sale.

Run by hundreds of volunteers, the fair raised some $2.6 million for literacy and other programs over its four decades, says Caroline Mitchell, executive director of the organization's community development. 

But late last year, the group decided to sell its old Carondelet building, where it used to store books, CDs, DVDs and other donations during the year. Earlier this year, volunteers were informed that the book fair would not continue, Mitchell says. 

"The Y has reallocated other funding resources to ensure that the programs historically funded by the book fair are able to continue successfully," she elaborated by email. "We continue to provide the literacy programs that this event supported, thanks to the volunteers who provide the tutoring and the generous donors who support our philanthropic work. We also receive support through grants and other funding sources."

The old Carondelet YMCA was used mostly for office space, Mitchell said. The cost of managing the building for limited staff was "not the best use of Y funds," she said in her email. "In 2018, we opened a new association office in downtown St. Louis that allowed us to consolidate our community development staff with our other association staff into one location."

In the future, she suggests book donors give to the Greater St. Louis Book Fair: "We are fortunate in St. Louis there are multiple book fair events and by encouraging our patrons and book donors to connect with the Greater St. Louis book fair, we hope that we have preserved much of the charitable/community value of the event. We still engage with our book fair volunteers through our other initiatives, and look forward to working with them in our gardens, back-to-school fairs, youth sports, tutoring and other programs."

There are three book sales next month:

• The friends group of the St. Charles City-County Library is having an in-person sale at the Family Arena starting Aug. 6. 

• The Greater St. Louis fair is taking place Aug. 12-15 at W.C. Kennedy Recreation Center, 6050 Wells Road, South County.

• And the Jewish Community Center will have a used book sale starting Aug. 22.

For more details about all three book sales, see Go! Magazine on Aug. 6.

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