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May 13
10 am - 4 pm
Main Room opens at 11 am
May 14
1 pm - 4 pm
Auction preview 10:30 am - 1:30 pm
Auction begins at 2 pm in K5

Featured topics for May:

Biography Business
European Art Fiction
History Linguistics
Paperback Fiction
Psychology Science
Travel Woodworking

Vintage LP Albums:
Opera, Show Tunes,
and Jazz Wurlitzer

And over 50,000 other items

4000 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto
Northwest corner of the Cubberley Community Center

More information on the sales
Donate your old books

All proceeds go to help Palo Alto libraries.

Main Book Room Sale
In our main room, prices are way below what used book stores charge.  Paperbacks are 50 cents and up, and hardcovers are $1.00 and up.  Numbered tickets for the main room are given out beginning at 8 am on Saturday.  These reserve your place in the line that forms before the 11 am opening.  Each person may pick up one or two tickets.

Children's Books in K6
Room K6 in the K wing (see map) is entirely filled with children's books and toys.  You'll find picture books, school age fiction, award winners, non-English titles, and books for parents and teachers, many for under $1.  This room and the bargain room open at 10 am on Saturday.

Bargain Books in K7
Next door in K7 is the bargain room, where paperbacks are 50 cents, hardcovers are $1.00, and children's books are just 25 cents each.  Pay just half of that in the bargain room after 12:30 pm on Saturday and all day on Sunday.  On Sunday, you can also buy grocery bags in the bargain room for $5 and fill them with books.

Library Closed for Memorial Day
Palo Alto's libraries will be closed on Monday, May 29 for Memorial Day.  Even when the libraries are closed, you can still search the online catalog, submit reference desk questions, access many online resources, and get book recommendations.
Non-Profit Book Giveaway
Non-profit organizations and schools that need free books should come to the Bargain Room this month from 4 to 6 pm on Sunday, May 14.  More information.
Police Station Will Not Replace Downtown Library
Palo Alto's Police Building Blue Ribbon Task Force voted unanimously on April 19 to drop the Downtown Library as a possible location for a new police station.
Community members and the Friends of the Palo Alto Library had raised many concerns about tearing down the branch.  The existing library building has many mature trees, pleasant courtyards, and a design praised by members of the city's own Architectural Review Board.
In both 1999 and 2000, the City also considered replacing the Downtown Library by a police station, but eventually focused on other sites after community outcry.  See Palo Alto Weekly article and our previous coverage.

We're always eager to hear your suggestions for ways to improve our book sale.  Please email them to us at or mention them to a volunteer at the sale.
Book Auction on Sunday
We have over 100 wonderful books to auction off this Sunday at 2 pm.  Many of these are first editions, antiquarian items, or inscribed by the author.  You'll be able to preview all auction books from 10:30 am on Sunday until 1:30 pm in room K5, which is right next to our Children's Room in K6.  The auction will be held in room K5 as well.  See the full list of books, which explains how you may bid by email if you can't attend the auction.
Peek at our Bookshelves
Click here to see some of the shelves at this weekend's sale
See some of the interesting books we've recently received and get a head start on this weekend's booksale by clicking here.
Bring Bags and Donations
Please support our booksale by donating your spare paper grocery bags.  You can give these to our volunteers as you enter the Main Room on the north side.  You can also donate books, DVDs, video tapes, CDs, and other items at the same time and ask for a receipt.
Library Circulation is Tops
Palo Altans use their libraries more than people in other comparably-sized cities in California.  According to a just-released State Librarian report, Palo Alto ranks first among 26 cities with populations of 50,000 to 70,000 in items circulated per capita during 2004-2005.  Palo Alto ranked second in library visits per capita only to Cerritos, which recently expanded its library.  Palo Alto also runs a close second in books per capita, being edged out by Palos Verdes.  Even with the Children's Library closed, things look good for our standings in 2005-2006 as well, since the library reports that circulation is up at all branches for the first months of this year.
Long-Term Library Proposal Draws Comments
At three community meetings held so far across Palo Alto, dozens of residents have asked questions and voiced opinions about the Library Advisory Commission's newly proposed long-term library plan.
The draft plan contemplates constructing a new combination "full-service" library and community center with underground parking at Mitchell Park, replacing the present buildings but not extending into the park.  Several meeting participants spoke in favor of the proposed new building while others called for preserving the present library or just expanding it.  The new facility would be smaller than the 71,500 square foot Mitchell Park project proposed in 2002 as part of Measure D.  That measure, which would have also substantially expanded the Children's Library and freed up funds to improve the Art Center, received 61.5% of the vote, falling shy of the 2/3 margin needed for passage.
The Commission's new plan goes further than Measure D by proposing significant expansion of library hours, community outreach, technology services, and staff training.  Cost estimates are not yet available, in part because the Commission is first hoping to gauge support at the conceptual level.  However, some attendees expressed concern about the high cost and concern over getting 2/3 of voters to approve it.  Library construction costs have also risen considerably faster than inflation since 2002.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the plan is that it would "scale back collections and services" at other branches to narrow their focus.  For example, the Children's Library would focus less on grades 4 and 5, the College Terrace and Downtown branches would lose reference and other materials, and the Main Library would concentrate more on research.  Consistent with their diminished scope, the Main Library would be renamed the Newell or E. D. Stone Branch, and the Downtown Library would become the Forest Branch.  A number of attendees perceived these changes as diminishing the four North Palo Alto libraries, and commissioners expressed some openness to reworking these parts of the plan.
Some residents questioned whether a new Mitchell Park library would prove expensive to operate and precipitate closing or shrinking other branches, something the Commission, City Manager, and library staff have recommended in previous years.  Commissioners responded that they felt the plan strengthened the branches, but acknowledged they had not recommended that the City Council work in a guarantee of branch continuity.
To learn more, read the draft plan online.  You can also attend the Wednesday, May 10 meeting at Main Library, upcoming Library Advisory Commission Thursday meetings on May 14 and May 28 at City Hall, or the Monday May 18 City Council meeting that will discuss the draft plan, also at City Hall.  All four meetings begin at 7 pm.  You can also email comments to the commission or to the City Council.
Try Our Book Group
Here's what our book group will be reading over the coming year, as chosen at their meeting last month.  The group meets from 7:30 to 9 pm on the second Thursday of every month at the Lucie Stern Community Center Fireside Room at 1305 Middlefield Road.  Click on any title to read more it:
Date   Title and Author
May 11, 2006   Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
June 8   The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
July 13   Close Range by Annie Prioux
August 10   The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
September 14   Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
October 12   The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
November 9   Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
December 14   Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
January 11, 2007   Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
February 8   The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
March 8   Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Greer
April 12   Choose the next eleven books
Radio Daze
Using radio tags to help automate the Palo Alto Library does not appear to be cost-effective, according to data in a recently-completed $45,000 study.  The idea was to put a tiny radio device, known as RFID or Radio Frequency Identification tags, in every book, DVD, and other library item.  This would simplify checkout, as the radio tags would automatically communicate with the checkout machine rather than your having to scan each book.  The radio tags would also serve as security devices by triggering an alert if taken from the library without being checked out.  Most importantly, the radio tags would save 1,805 to 3,610 staff hours per year when used with equipment that automatically checks returned items back in and then sorts them onto carts for reshelving.
Check-in is typically handled now by Palo Alto library staff who earn $15 per hour (including benefits) and by volunteers, so the annual savings would be at most $54,150.  However, the estimated annual maintenance costs for the RFID tags and associated equipment is at least $153,000.  Hence, switching to RFID tags would likely create a deficit each year instead of generating savings.  It would thus be impossible to recoup the $1,223,000 or higher initial investment required for the tags, equipment, and installation.  There would also be no actual savings to fund other library operations.
These findings mirror a 2004 article in Library Journal, which notes that RFID is "seductive" but found that, "No published studies yet exist presenting quantifiable evidence that RFID provides greater gains than expenditures."
Palo Alto's study evaluated putting resorting equipment into each Palo Alto library branch, although that is probably impractical at the smaller ones.  It also priced out trucking books to a shared rented facility, sorting them there, and then shipping them back to each branch.  The latter option turns out to be more expensive, especially as an error in the report understated the annual rent by $176,000.
The ACLU and other organizations have raised concerns that RFID tags on library books permit a determined third-party to discover which titles you check out.  One such scenario would use radio equipment to detect the tags in your home and then match those up against the books once returned to the library.  The study discounts these privacy concerns, noting that RFID tags can be read from "typically no greater than two feet," but this applies only to tag readers used by libraries themselves, and not to equipment intended to violate privacy.
The Palo Alto City Council funded the study, which was conducted by RMG Consultants of Chicago.  The Council also set aside $600,000 for RFID implementation, which remains available for future projects.
This notice comes to you from the non-profit organization Friends of the Palo Alto Library.  No trees were felled in the making of this e-mail.  While the Better Business Bureau recommends that no more than 35% of a charitable organization's expenses be for management and fundraising expenses, ours were only 1.9% for our 2004-2005 fiscal year.  In other words, about 98% of the money we raised went to help Palo Alto Library users.  Visit our web site.  Become a member by joining online.

Be sure to receive your own free copy of this e-mail notice so that you'll know about all special upcoming books sales.  To sign up, just e-mail us.  We carefully protect the privacy of your e-mail address.  We will not share your e-mail address with any other organization and we will not use it for any purpose other than to send you these notices.  If you do not wish to receive these e-mail notices in the future, please reply with the words "Remove Me" in the subject line.