Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery, part X

Running after the child was liberating. The researcher felt free of the restraints and conventions of her life. She was soon out of breath though, and slowed to a walk. She could hear the laughter of children, but no longer see them. Ahead on the right was a copse of trees, so she angled her path toward them. As she neared the area, an older boy stepped out. He was dressed in the kind of clothes she’d seen on the male figure in the photos.

The boy stood in a defiant stance with his legs in a “v” and his arms angled on his hips. “What are you doing here?” he demanded. The researcher thought a moment and replied, honestly, “I don’t really know. I was trying to find out the answers to a mystery, and it brought me here.”

He squinted in the bright sun. “Where did you come from?” he asked.

Again the researcher hesitated, “I’m . . . I’m not sure. I was at the library and then . . . I wasn’t.” She looked around her, as if searching for something. “I think I had a bag, and a computer, and I certainly wasn’t wearing these clothes . . . “ her voice trailed off as the boy’s eyes widened with incredulity.

“You must be a ghost then, and we don’t play games with ghosts!” he exclaimed.

“No, I’m real! I remember – I was looking for a girl named Emajean. Do you know her?” she asked quickly.

The boy, who had been about to melt back into the trees, paused. “Maybe.  Maybe she was the little girl you were chasing when you came here. But why do you want to find her?” he asked.

The researcher shook her head, frustrated. “I’m not sure I remember why. I just remember that I need to find her. Can you help me?”

He gazed at her and then seemed to decide something. “No,” he said with finalilty. “You can’t see her,” and he began to fade into the copse.

“No, wait!” she cried, "Are you Walter?", but it was too late. He was gone and the noises of all the children were gone as well.

She looked around her, hoping to see any kind of structure that would be evidence of people. In the far distance she saw a shape that looked like a barn. The researcher squared her shoulders and began trudging towards it. Suddenly her adventure playing Tag wasn’t much fun anymore.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unfinished Business

No, Elizabeth, it isn't quite time for us to rest on our laurels, but you do look cute trying!

The last, and most important part of our Semi-Annual Used Book Sale is thanking the many people who made it possible.  Sure, our volunteers are absolutely awesome and this is a huge


to them.

But there's another group of folks without whom our booksale would be a much less pleasant experience for the volunteers, patrons, and library staff. These people donate food and services simply because they are part of our community and they believe in supporting good causes! Here's the honor roll for Fall 2010!

Please support these businesses and take the time to say Thank You as well!

Bagel Market, Vienna
CVS #2155, Herndon
CVS #1396, Reston
Dairy Queen, Reston
Domino's Pizza, Reston
Edibles Incredible, Sterling
Giant Food #153, Reston (John Milton Drive)
Giant Food #747, Reston (North Point)
Honey Baked Ham Co
Lucia's, Herndon
Mon Ami Gabi, Reston
Office Depot, Reston
Papa John's Pizza, Vienna
Quiznos, Herndon
Rio Grande, Reston Town Center
Target, Reston
Trader Joe's, Reston
Starbucks, Reston (South Lakes)
Via de France, Vienna
Walmart, Fairfax
Wegmans, Fairfax
Whole Foods, Reston

and a huge thank-you to our indomitable Helen T. who goes in to see each of these merchants and asks them to donate.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Packed Up for Next Time

Whew! Our Fall 2010 Semi-Annual Book Sale is over and we're finishing up the details of storing equipment for  the winter. Our overall sales were lower this time, but we think we know some of the reasons:

1.  FIVE (count 'em) FIVE book sales in the FCPL system this weekend (yes, ours is ALWAYS the last weekend in September, but we can't deconflict with everyone else).
2.  The FCPL calendar omitted the listing for our sale. Our branch remedied it, but the publications that went out throughout the county didn't get corrected.
3.  Despite sending out press releases, etc., it is increasingly difficult to get local media to promote this awesome event.
4.  Many, many things to choose from (Fall for the Book, National Book Festival, Multicultural Fair, etc.)

Nonetheless, there may be things you noticed as a shopper that you think made a difference.  If so, please let us know by commenting, e-mailing, or calling us (703-829-5467)!

Those who did show up this weekend had great bargains to harvest! And for the first time in anyone's memory, our local Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Cathy Hudgins, showed up to help work for a little while on Saturday. Here she is in charge of the back door cashier table.

Thank you to all of the customers, volunteers, food donors, and library staff who participated in this event! And a special thanks to Sam Clay, FCPL Director, and Stephanie Abbott, our FCPL Board of Trustees Member for Hunter Mill, for showing up almost every sale and working hard to make it a success!

Just to prove that the Reston Friends have superpowers and CAN be in two places at once, here's a shot from the Reston Multicultural Festival on Saturday.  (Photo by Jessica Swingle)

Now to all our buyers -- don't get complacent until Spring -- there are a couple of mini-sales coming up designed JUST for our local buyers to keep you busy in the interim!

Puzzle Sale (November)
Holiday Sale (December)
Mystery Sale (February)

We are NOW ACCEPTING donations for the puzzle sale.  And we will open again for book donations on October 2.  See you then!

Friday, September 24, 2010


The Semi-Annual Used Book Sale is in HIGH GEAR right now.  We started on Wednesday evening with a memorable Friends Night . . . and yesterday's sales were steady all day long.

If you feel like you missed all the "GREAT" bargains, YOU ARE WRONG!  We restock throughout the entire sale. You may not see big boxes and carts coming in, so you may not think we're doing it. But our amazing volunteers are carrying books in by the armful, and very quietly, in order to not disturb your concentration while you choose MANY wonderful books, they are supplementing your choices.

We still have quite a few boxes of EVERY genre! So take the time to stop by today, and tomorrow, and even Sunday.

And to answer that question that NO ONE seems to get the answer to:


Because, we restock throughout the entire sale!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Countdown to Sale

more days until the Semi-Annual Used Book Sale opens with
Friends' Night
Wednesday, Sept 22, 5-7:30pm


If you can't make it Friends Night, we'd still love for you
to join us as a member!

General Public Welcome
Thursday & Friday


Friday, September 17, 2010

Treasures Galore

It is less than one week until our Huge Semi-Annual Used Book Sale starts. If you're a member (easy to do, just click on the sidebar to the left that says JOIN and follow the instructions), you'll have first night access to all of our books for sale. This is important in the Specials room, particularly. That is where our one-of-a-kind, unique, collectible, and rare books are. Once they're sold, they're gone.  So if you like unique, come Wednesday night at 5.  These are some of the books available that night.  And don't forget the TOPLIST, which lists more of these truly chance-in-a-lifetime books.

Just a reminder about the Specials Room:
2.  No backpacks, boxes, or bags
3.  All selections must be processed at the Specials Room and will wait for you at the cashier.
4.  Please be careful of the books and other people -- most are one-of-a-kind!
5.  Even though the books in the Specials Room are priced higher than the main room, the vast majority are still under $10.
6.  At our sale we accept cash or checks.

The books on this page appear to be part of the important
Dietrichstein Library in Europe. The aristocratic Dietrichstein
family of Austria and Moldovia were politicians, diplomats, army
leaders and clerics, powerful 1500-1800.

All three of these books appear to be bound in the same leather and style
as the famed collection that was auctioned in Switzerland in the 1930's,
and two bear the signature of one of the family members who was the
tutor to Napoleon Bonaparte's son, and a patron to Beethoven and Schubert.

This is history in your hands . . .these are available for viewing on Friends Night.

We'll look for you Wednesday, 22 September, at 5 at Reston Regional!

And NOTE:  Special items will be in the Display Case in the front entrance area as early as Monday!  Take a look as you stop by!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery
Part IX
 (To Review, Part I)
(To Review, Part II)
(To Review, Part III)
(To Review, Part IV)
(To Review, Part V)
(To Review, Part VI)
(To Review, Part VII)
(To Review, Part VIII)

The researcher was frustrated. Every avenue she explored in trying to find someone who would claim the photos she'd found in the old yearbook proved fruitless. She'd written to the Friends of the Library from the public library in Jackson, Michigan, but heard nothing. She'd written to the nursing school at Loyola. Viewing their website, she saw it was an anniversary year for them -- surely they would be interested in a 1933 graduate? But the emptiness of her mailboxes, both e-mail and snail, belied that hope.

Her trip to see th experts at the Genealogy Library had been not quite a waste of time, but perhaps a waste of breath. She had talked to the librarian on duty, telling her about the quest, and asking for suggestions regarding where to turn next.

The librarian told her to contact the Michigan State Library, or public library of Chicago, and that if either of those institutions gave the researcher a resource or reference, to ask for an Inter Library Loan to get ahold of it. The researcher listened to the instructions, struggling to keep an attentive demeanor. She had hoped for a resource accessible while she was standing there.

Discouraged, the researcher turned to her own list of genealogy items she wanted to look up that day. Fortunately, my ancestors come from Virginia, and I know how to use the Virginia materials without help! She could hear the "harumph" inside her head.

She quickly found the late 18th century references she wanted and began jotting down dates and names. So sad, she thought. This Bible page lists fourteen children, but only two are shown living to maturity. She copied the information and moved on to the next source.

At 11:30 the researcher's cell phone rang. It was her lunch date -- a friend who was in town for the day. The researcher happily closed the books she was using and headed towards the elevator to the parking garage.

She smiled at a woman entering the library with three children in tow. The little girl was wearing a sailor-style dress, complete with bows on her pigtails in red, white, and blue. The older boy looked all boy -- his knees were skinned and his shirt had a truck embroidered on the pocket. A second younger little boy was wearing a romper and different colored croc shoes -- one blue and one green.  The children were following their mom like ducklings in a row. The researcher exulted that they were coming into the library, each child carrying a bag of books to return. Part of her wanted to go in with them to see what they would select to take home with them.

Still somewhat lost in the thoughts about her 18th century ancestors, the researcher mused. I wonder what it was like for the woman who had fourteen children in eighteen years. If they had all lived past infancy, she would have had a whole bunch of grandchildren! She stifled a chuckle as an image of a woman in a bonnet and long skirt, trailed by fourteen children in a row like ducklings, flitted through her mind.

She entered the elevator and pushed the button to go downstairs, glancing at her watch.  Good, 11:40.  I have plenty of time to get to the restaurant by noon.

When the elevator door opened, the researcher's jaw dropped. Instead of the concrete and steel industrial looking garage, the doors revealed a field of stubble, stretching out to a distant river. She heard the caw of crows and what sounded like the voices of children. Cautiously, she stepped to the edge of the elevator and peered around to the right. A giant puff of air at her back made her lose her balance and she fell forward onto the stubble of the field. When she turned around, the elevator was gone, as was her laptop and purse.

She heard a small voice ask, "why are you just sitting down there? Why aren't you playing our game?" The researcher stood up, brushed off her knees, and said to the child who had asked, "what game are you playing?" The child's face split open with a gap-toothed grin as she answered, "tag!" She smacked the researcher on the hand and took off running towards the distant river.

The researcher gathered her skirts (her skirts?), adjusted her bonnet (bonnet?), and joined the chase. If she was in a hallucination, she was going to enjoy every minute of it. Tag had ALWAYS been her favorite game.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Sale Info

This is a reminder about some of the PHYSICAL rules for our book sale:

1.  NO strollers (Fire Marshall rule)
2.  NO baby backpacks or large backpacks of any kind (whacking people with them is an all too real risk)
3.  No box larger than a U.S. Postal carrier and one box per person in the room at any one time. In other words, you can bring multiples of your properly sized box, but fill one and take it out of the room before you start another. The ideal would be for you to fill it, take it out, and have one of our incredibly enthusiastic and helpful book sale workers go ahead and count it and put it aside for you.
4.  If you remove a book from a table, our assumption is you're buying it. Do not remove a bunch of "might buy" books and leave whatever you decide against for our workers to put away. We classify this as hoarding. Don't do it.
5.  Any behavior the book sale chair determines to be hoarding or generally pushy and obnoxious will receive the consequence it deserves -- we will ask offenders to leave the book sale. We like to run a friendly sale, not a free-for-all.

If you want to come on Friends Night (22 September), you MUST have a current membership. Sure, you can wait until that night to renew, but why stand in line longer than you have to? Go ahead and do it by clicking on the membership button on the left sidebar. We'll have the information that night and you will zip right through getting your entrance ticket.

See you soon!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review

The blogger wanted to share a book she just finished. It's not a new book, but one that leaped off the shelves of the Reston Regional Library into her hands last week. Once she started it, she had a very hard time putting it down.

Ghost Riders, by Sharyn McCrumb, is a story of how the old and the new can intersect in time with quite unexpected results. The setting is in the mountains of North Carolina during the Civil War as well as the present. The story is mostly about a couple, McKesson (Keith) and Malinda (Sam) Blalock, who are as poor as any up in the mountains, but despite their best efforts, can't stay free of entanglements with the war. They eventually end up helping soldiers who are escaping from service with the CSA.

At the same time, but in a different century, re-enactors are in the woods in the mountains, living the "good" soldier life. They don't realize that the folks coming through their campsite with the totally realistic gear and uniforms and appearance aren't reenactors. Their ignorance is a blessing.

There are some other characters that help hold the story together -- a part-Cherokee man called Rattler, and a mountain man from the old times named Zebulon Baird Vance. Their involvement in the story is essential and utterly fascinating.

The reason the blogger found the book so interesting is because she has been up to her eyeteeth in genealogy history lately, much of it trying to discern when her ancestors crossed the Appalachians. From reading the accounts of those who kept moving west, the blogger was aware of how realistically portrayed the time and circumstances were captured by the author.  Additionally, the battle of Saltville figures in the book, and that's the one the blogger's daughter was working on with GIS this summer at Governor's School.  Who knew we'd ever hear anything about that one again?

Some of the characters really existed in the Civil War times, which makes the story even more intriguing.

If you ever wondered why re-enactors do what they do, and what ghosts they risk disturbing, you'll enjoy this historical fiction book. You can find it on the shelf:


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall 2010 Book Sale FAQ's

This is part II of the FAQ's for the Fall 2010 Book Sale. If you missed Part I yesterday, click here
If you have more questions than we've answered, please e-mail us!

What’s in the Display Case?

A variety of eye-catching and specialty books that might require a little more gentle handling than those on the shelves in the Specials Room.  NOTE: Display case items are sometimes ready to appear as soon as MONDAY, during set-up.  Things from our TOPLIST will often be featured there as well.

Do you have books “held back”?

There are a certain number of higher value books that we have available for scrutiny and purchase which we do not put in the Specials Room. This is largely due to concern for their condition. As you probably know, in collectible books, condition plus scarcity is everything. Let us know if there is something particular you are looking for.

What are the advantages of becoming a Friends Member?

First and foremost, you can enter the sale on Friends Night, Sept 22, 5-7:30 p.m.  While we restock the sale all week, the best of the Specials Room books are available that night.

Second, for Friends members with specialty subject interests, we are sometimes able to identify a few available titles that are not shown on the toplist.  Tell us what you collect, and we’ll keep it in mind as we accrue donations between sales.

GREAT! How do I become a Member?

The easiest way is to click on the button to join (top of the sidebar on the left). That will take you through a process to join. Then on Friends night, you show up, check in, and will receive a ticket to enter.  If you wait until Friends Night to join, you will spend more time at the check-in table as we have to get the information from you along with your check. Spend less time IN LINE by doing it ON LINE.

Support Friends of Reston Regional Library by purchasing a T-shirt during the sale! They're only $10 and make great gifts!

Why do you allow Dealers?

Dealers are customers just like anyone else. We value our relationships with all of our customers as long as everyone behaves in an adult manner. Believe it or not, some of the most egregious behavior does NOT come from dealers. By the same token, we do not have a special “Dealers Night” like some book sales do because we do not value the dealers any more than our other customers, and vice-versa.

What are the sale hours?

Friends Night (membership required) Sept 22, 5-7:30 p.m.
Thursday & Friday, Sept, 23-24, 10-5
Saturday, Sept 25, 10-4
Sunday, Sept 26, 1-3:30

How much are the books?
Mass Market Paperbacks start at .50 cents each
Trade Paperbacks start at $1.00
Hardcovers start at $1.50
All media and specials room books are visibly priced.
If you do not see a price on something and it doesn't fall within the first three categories, please ask us about it.  

What kind of accessibility do you provide for disabled people?

Our aisles are measured and tables placed exactly to comply with Fire Marshall requirements for safety. If you need a walker or wheelchair, we are happy to accommodate you by offering you a chance to come shop for a short time before we open to the public. Please understand that to access this opportunity you need to contact us first. You can do so by e-mailing us at or contacting someone at the library.

That said, per Fire Marshall rules, we cannot accommodate strollers. Please consider carefully whether your child or children are the type that can wait quietly for you to finish shopping. If they are likely to create a disturbance for other patrons, please reconsider bringing them. Our major concern is their safety -- people carrying boxes, bags or piles of books often do not see little ones under their feet.

Finally, we want to make the book sale a pleasant experience for everyone involved. If you have concerns, suggestions or questions, please communicate them to our e-mail address and we’ll answer as soon as we’re able. Thank you for helping us to make the Reston Used Book Sale the best in town!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Emajean on Holiday

The story of Emajean will continue NEXT week. This week the researcher is accruing more details to share.

In the meantime, please consider attending this event being held at Reston Regional Library next
MONDAY, SEPT 13, at 7PM.  Attending is FREE.

Rita Crosby will appear to talk about her book and sign it.  Simultaneously (and I do not understand how this all works), a company called Autographaroo will be offering signed copies via the internet. All net proceeds will go to the Fairfax Library Foundation.

This is not underwritten by Friends of Reston Regional Library, nor are we receiving any funds from it. We just wanted to pass on something happening at our library!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Semi-Annual Sale Approaching

The Semi-Annual Book Sale is approaching quickly, so we'll revisit some of the FAQ's.


The Friends of Reston Regional Library welcome all of you to the sale.  Our goal is for EVERYONE to enjoy the sale and to have a fair chance to find what they want. To that end, we have a few rules, which if everyone can follow them, will help all of us.

Why do you have so many more fiction than non-fiction books?

We don't!  Yes, adult fiction is the largest single subject category at the semi-annual sales.... as measured by "volume" (cubic feet!).  However, when all fiction is toted up (fiction plus sci fi plus romance plus lit, etc.), the total number of boxes is well below half.  So therefore all non-fiction (history, self help, cooking, religion, etc.) is clearly well above half.

But what the Friends have sorted through and stashed in our storage shed isn't the whole story either.  The way that the Friends have allocated selling square footage in the building (the two rows of fiction tables, plus the zones for sci fi, romance, lit) confirms that fiction again represents well below half of what's allocated. . . and what happy shoppers get to browse through at any given time during the sale itself.

What forms of payment do you take?

Cash and checks with valid information and phone number.  If you’ve written us a bad check in the past, cash only.

What are the rules for dealers/high volume buyers?

Second, no pushing, shoving, cursing, or behaving in a way that would have made your mama mad if you'd done it when you were five years old. We're all adults, and we all deserve a chance to shop in a non-hostile environment.

What is hoarding?

That's when someone takes a whole bunch of books from a table or area, keeps them from other buyers, and then goes through them slowly, rejecting and often not returning their rejects. This is rude and violates the spirit of the book sale. SO...if you take a book off a table we will presume that you are buying it.

a)     No bulk buying allowed until Sunday at 2pm. That means no sweeping of books from the tables into plastic bags. Throughout the sale we allow you to buy as many TOTAL boxes (standard size/postal size) as you wish.  However, each time you accrue 6 boxes, we ask that you check out and take them to your car; and return as time permits.  We are very short on space, so if you can get your books out to your vehicle in chunks, it lessens the chance another patron will not recognize them as ‘taken’ or even ‘sold’ and start going through them.

Do you allow scanners?

Scanners are allowed on the main floor as long as one abides by the rules and behaves in an orderly fashion. We will ask people who cannot behave in an orderly manner to leave.  Should the use of scanners cause a disruption, we will ask you to put them away. We ask that you mind your manners – do not snatch books out of people's hands.

NOTE: Scanners are NOT allowed in the Specials Room

NOTE: Scanner are NOT permitted in the Media area (cd's, tapes, etc). This area is too crowded and numerous complaints about the behavior of those using scanners in this area have prompted this move.

What is the Specials Room?

This is the small room where we have located higher value books ($5 and up – the vast majority $7 and under). ON FRIENDS NIGHT (Sep 22), patrons may select up to 40 items at a time, have them processed, paid for, and taken to their car, and then return and repeat as often as needed throughout preview night.  Due to the small space, patrons will be asked to leave other boxes, bags and books outside the Specials Room throughout the sale. 

What are some typical books located in the Specials Room?

You can see a selection of the books offered by viewing our Toplist which will be posted by the end of this week.  This list is just a drop in the bucket of what we have there.

Why do you take so much information when I’ve selected Specials Room books?

We do it because it clearly helps us to run a better sale for the shopper, not just at this sale but future ones as well.  By knowing that a particular scarce item has sold already, the less likely we'll be to keep looking for it when another customer asks about it later!  More importantly, we learn about what subject categories are most sought after by our patrons.  And of course, that contact info routinely allows us to contact a buyer who's forgotten to pick up the precious bag of selections at checkout time (unfortunately happens every sale, and multiple times, too)

Will there be children's books at these sales?

No, last year we decided to separate the Childrens & Young Adults books from the Semi-Annual Book Sale and hold a specific sale for those items about a month before the Semi-Annual Sale. We just ran it again in August and it was more successful than ever. So there will be NO children's books at this sale, except for collectibles that might be in the specials room.

MORE FAQ's tomorrow!