When Chris Lund and his girlfriend moved from Long Island to Cortland in 2018, they headed straight for the Cortland Free Library.
“It was a new city that neither of us ever lived in and we wanted to get to know the community,” Lund said Monday. “That was a great way to meet people and get to know about all the local events and what kind of things were available in Cortland.”
Now, Lund is president of the Friends of Cortland Free Library and is organizing its first indoor book sale since before the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s kind of a typical, standard fundraiser for these friends of the libraries groups to do some sort of book sale — it tends to be the most popular type of fundraiser for us,” Lund said. “We had one scheduled for summer 2020, but COVID put a hold on those, and we didn’t have one again until our outdoor fiction-only sale this summer.”
Before the pandemic, the library also hosted events on the first Friday of each month.
“Normally on First Fridays, we would have live music and a reception where everybody could come in and have food, but we’re still not quite doing that,” said library Director Jen Graney.
Instead, it’s hosting a two-day book sale. “We’re pretty excited about that and we’re going to have a concert streaming at the same time Friday evening.”
The Cortland Free Library has nearly two years’ worth of book donations awaiting new owners, Lund said, just in time for the gift-giving holiday season.
“Our goal is to try to bring in about $500 for the library,” he said. “The library only gets so much funding, and they can only do so much with their small staff — they don’t have the time to do fundraising. There’s a lot of things, like the children’s program, the library does and we want to be able to help with that.”
If you go
What: Cortland Free Library book sale
When: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cortland Free Library, 32 Church St., Cortland
Prices: $1 for hardcover books, 50 cents for trade paperbacks, media and children’s books, 25 cents for pocket paperbacks. For a holiday-themed gift basket raffle: $1 per ticket, or $5 for seven.
Also: Visitors over 2 must wear a facial covering regardless of vaccination status
Youth Services Librarian Tammy Sickmon said attendance has gone down since the pandemic, but she has noticed an increase in digital library usage.
As COVID-19 restrictions were lifted this summer, book clubs began meeting regularly, the staff created take-and-make activity kits for kids, hosted in-person and virtual read-aloud storytimes, and soon the library will host craft and trivia events for the holiday season.
“A public library is a community center where people can connect with others, whether it is library staff or other patrons,” Sickmon said. “Staying connected with each other, especially during these times, is more important now than ever and libraries are the perfect way and place to do that.”
The library has much to offer that people don’t know about, Graney said. It offers free resources and materials, such as books, CDs, movies, coloring sheets, puzzles and educational games.
“At the library, we offer exposure to not just the world of reading and writing literacy, but all types of literacy, including civic, media and environmental literacy,” Graney said. “There are so many different programs, and I think once people get involved it can help open their eyes to things that are important to them, can further their education and their personal goals of lifelong learning.”