What: Friends of the Bend Libraries used book sale

When: Saturday — open to FOBL members 9 to 10:30 a.m.; open to the general public 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday — 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: Modular building on the Northeast corner of Ponderosa Elementary School, 3790 NE Purcell Blvd. (behind the baseball field at Purcell Blvd. and Yeoman Road)

Cost: Free admittance. Most books cost $1. Half price on Sunday.

Contact: fobl.org or 541-617-7047

The quarterly book sales run by nonprofit Friends of the Bend Libraries will be reborn Saturday and Sunday at a new location in northeast Bend.

In March, flooding and water damage led to the destruction of an entire inventory of around 11,000 donated books and media items, and the cancellation of the nonprofit’s spring book sale. The damage was discovered in the space used for many years by FOBL in the basement of the Deschutes Public Library administration building in downtown Bend. The likelihood of mold and mildew growing on the books forced the organization to dispose of all the donated items.

“I was in a FOBL board meeting on the 11th of March when we heard about the extent of the damage in our space at the library,” said book sale chairperson Toby Bayard. “We couldn’t go in because of the conditions and possible hazards, so I was completely unprepared to hear that it was a total loss.”

Founded in 1980, FOBL raises money to support the services of Deschutes Public Library’s Bend branches. The group’s website lists donations totaling $25,000 to Deschutes Public Library in 2018. The majority of FOBL fundraising comes from its long-running quarterly book sales, which typically generate $4,000 to $5,000 each, according to Bayard. Other sources of funding include membership fees, small stores at the Downtown Bend and East Bend libraries and a portion of sales from art exhibits coordinated by the group at the Downtown Library.

“Some people thought we were done for, but I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘Let’s get even better,’” Bayard said.

Another FOBL volunteer, Bill Borthwick, offered to serve as book sale co-chair with Bayard and they rolled up their sleeves alongside a dedicated committee of 22 core volunteers, most of whom are seniors.

“I knew we had a lot of work to do and our fingers were crossed, obviously, that we wouldn’t miss another sale,” Borthwick said.

The first order of business was to secure a new site to store donated books and host future sales. The group’s previous space had been provided free of charge by Deschutes Public Library. However, with that location no longer available in the aftermath of the water damage, the volunteers knew finding a suitable and affordable location would not be easy. Borthwick heard that a modular building at Ponderosa Elementary School would no longer be needed as a classroom due to the scheduled September opening of the new North Star Elementary School, and FOBL negotiated a lease from Bend-La Pine Schools. The 1,600-square-foot structure has 80 adjacent parking spots and a wheelchair access ramp, and the book sale committee renovated the interior using largely donated shelving and lumber.

At the same time, volunteers began the process of trying to replace the thousands of books that had been lost. Due to a shortage of space, Deschutes Public Library locations can no longer receive book donations for FOBL, so the group set up a donation phone line, handed out information at the libraries and posted donation requests and instructions on various social media platforms. Volunteers then drove their own vehicles to pick up donations throughout Central Oregon. Avid Cider (which was co-founded by Borthwick’s daughter, Sam McCoy), hosted five Avid for Books events that brought in about 2,000 more books.

Between preparing the new site and helping to collect, unpack, sort and shelve donations, Borthwick says he has put in between 250 to 300 volunteer hours for FOBL since March and other volunteers have worked just as hard. Bayard drove about 800 miles collecting donations and estimates the donation line coordinator, Kathy Lake, drove more than 1,000 miles.

Bayard says that since April 10, around 17,000 books, CDs, DVDs and other media items have been donated to FOBL. This will make the July sale one of the biggest events the group has ever staged. Like any bookstore, items are sorted into sections based on their genre and subject matter, with most items priced at $1. There will also be a table of free books and media items available. On Sunday, all remaining items will be half price.

“We go mostly for my kids,” said Bend resident Katie Griffin, who has three children under 10 years of age. “It is real nice being able to get the kids some books and not have to pay a fortune for them.”

“The teamwork from this group of volunteers has been absolutely amazing and the community came out for FOBL in a big way,” Bayard said. “Donations exceeded our wildest dreams, and even though I’ve been doing this for over five years, I had no idea that people loved the book sales so much.”