I love books. I buy them even when I know darn well I won’t get around to reading them. Deb, my bride, also loves books and has more than I do. Our house is chock-full of books.
I had the pleasure this past week of accompanying my bride to the annual luncheon meeting of the Friends of the Pima County Public Library. Deb has been volunteering at their “Book Barn” here in Tucson and was just named to the organization’s Board of Directors.
At the luncheon, I had the pleasure of meeting many folks who share our passion for books and who have given decades of service to the Libraries here. Among them was Charlie Washburn (83 years young) who was one of the original founding members and the first President of the “Friends” (of the Library, not the Quakers) 40 years ago. He reminisced about the first annual book sale, held in a member’s back-yard, that grossed $150 in sales. He said they were all delighted to have raised so much money. It gave us a great frame of reference to this year’s report that the annual book sales have grossed $180,000 and that on-line sales have grossed $150,000 and library “book-cart” sales have added another $30,000 to the organization’s coffers. That’s progress to the tune of 21.48% average annual growth – enviable by any venture. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars they contribute each year to the Library system ($216K this year), the “Friends” also manage their own facilities and growth having just purchase additional buildings in Tucson in which to store, process, price and sell the thousands of books (over 350,000 in fact) that pass through their system each year. It was a great crowd of dedicated “Bookaholics” as the keynote speaker Mr, David “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, political cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star, so appropriately called us all and himself. He was rewarded at the end with a stack of coupons for books at the “Book Barn”. He seemed delighted but compared us to crack dealers. We understand.
During his entertaining talk, “Fitz” drew, on an overhead projector, some caricatures of the folks in the room. Perhaps it was my smart-aleck response to his opening self introduction (“Hi, My name is Dave and I’m a Bookaholic” to which I alone first offered the standard reply: “Hi Dave”- the traditional greeting of a twelve step recovery program) that moved him to select me to caricature for the entertainment of the members and the apparent delight of my bride.
I think he took ten years off my appearance. Thanks Fitz!