Friends of the Knox County Library will open their Annual Used Book Sale this weekend at the Knoxville Convention Center to raise funds for Knox County libraries.

The sale begins Saturday, March 8 with a preview sale for Friends of the Library members. It opens to the public Sunday, March 9.

Extending their Bag Sale Mania an extra day, the final weekend of the sale, March 15-16, will allow shoppers to fill a bag with books and DVDs for $5 a bag. There is also an “Early Bird Special for Educators” sale Friday, March 14 for tutors, librarians and childcare professionals to shop the bag sale a day early.

Seventy percent of the books are collected through donations and the other 30 through withdraws from the Knox County libraries throughout the year. Maggie Carini, the Friends of the Library communications chair, said she sees the success of the event as a testament to improved literacy levels and interest in reading within the Knoxville community.

“First, I think it's kind of like 'What's not to love?' Our town has plenty of readers who love collecting and reading but don't always have room for it all,” Carini said. “So, we make appeals for what they are no longer reading or using.

"Secondly, people in our town are becoming better and stronger readers, which is great.”

Beginning 35 years ago, the first Friends of the Library Annual Used Book Sale started in a small space of the Western Plaza Shopping Center. Used to supplement what tax payerfunds could not cover, the sale has grown considerably, now residing in an exhibit hall in the Knoxville Convention Center.

“I guess it was just an obvious fit,” Carini said. “There’s a mix of people who love to read with more books than they can handle but who want to collect more.”

Funds from the sale go directly to local libraries for projects, programs and other needs. From rocking chairs to updated media, the Annual Used Book Sale “keeps things in good repair and keeps them from falling into disrepair,” according to Carini.

Abby Burris, Friends of the Library coordinator, sees a computer class given in Spanish as one of the biggest improvements in the Knox County libraries. Taught by reference librarian Candra Philips, Burris believes it “can make a big difference in students’ success here in Knox County," a difference that will come in large part through years of fundraising efforts by the organization.

Aside from its large collection of hardbacks and paperbacks, the sale also boasts a room full of collector and vintage books of “greater importance” that Carini said are “cheaper than what you would find on the Internet.".

Where students are concerned, there is the opportunity for them to find a textbook for a class for a significantly discounted price. The sale also sees individuals who are looking to enter a career or start a hobby who can now invest in the proper literature for around $2.

Organized and operated entirely by volunteers, Burris said the event depends on a certain kind of people.

“People who love the library so much that they're willing to work their tails off – some of them 12 months out of the year – so that every penny of our proceeds goes to strengthening our library system,” Burris said.

Stating that the sale’s greatest marketing is word of mouth, Carini sees her own involvement as a promotion for the event.

“People who know me and know how interested I am in this,” Carini said. “People see that I enjoy this and that strangers enjoy each other's company. It’s being a good citizen.”

Hardback books are $2, and paperbacks are $1. For more information, visit www.knoxfriends.org.