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Library system offers half-off book fair

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Janice Arcuria gets a surprise every time the headquarters branch of the Clayton County Public Library holds a Scholastic Half-Off Book Fair.

Arcuria, the library system's assistant director of youth services, said Scholastic does not tell local book fair coordinators what books they will get until the books arrive.

"Sometimes, they have the ones that are really popular, sometimes they have the recent award winner that you didn't expect to see in there so soon," Arcuria said. "We've had books in Spanish before, and we've had Christian-themed books as well."

Library system officials will find out what the newest books are today when the reading materials arrive for the book fair, which will be held at the headquarters branch, 865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro.

The fair will begin today, at 3:30 p.m., and end at 8:30 p.m. The book fair will continue daily through Wednesday, Feb. 25. The library system will also hold half-off book fairs June 9-16, and Dec. 1-7, Arcuria said.

Although Scholastic's Book Fairs division did not send the library system a list of books in advance, the company's web site lists featured books for pre-school-children, elementary school-kids, and middle school-children.

Educational books, and those featuring characters, such as Clifford, the big red dog, and Curious George are available for pre-school children.

Books featuring pop culture characters, ranging from SpongeBob SquarePants to Pokemon and Barbie are among those offered for elementary-age children.

A book about world records, and profiles of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and singer Justin Timberlake are included among those for middle school-age children.

Half-off book sales are not common at libraries, but the Clayton County library system holds them to make reading materials more affordable to families, Arcuria said. She also said the price range for books at the sale is roughly $1 to $12, but most of the books are available for less than $4.

Purchases can be made using cash, checks, purchase orders, major credit cards, and debit cards, which have charge card logos, such as Visa or Mastercard.

"We just felt anything we can do to make books more affordable would be good for the community," Arcuria said.

Bea Mengel, youth services librarian at the headquarters branch, said the system's goal is "to get books into the hands of children in every household" in Clayton County.

To that end, Arcuria and Mengel said the book fair will also help the library system with its annual summer Vacation Reading Program.

The system will receive a credit from Scholastic which equals 10 percent of the gross sales from the book sale, Arcuria said. The youth services department of the library system will use those credits to purchase paperback books that will be used as prizes for children who read at least 18 books during the vacation reading program.

Arcuria said the library system distributed 1,969 free books as prizes to young readers during the 2008 summer reading program. She said she would like to have 2,100 free books available this year.

Times for the book fair will vary, depending on the closing time for the headquarters branch. Books will be sold:

· Wednesday and Thursday, from 9:30 a.m., to 8:30 p.m.

· Friday, from 9:30 a.m.,, to 5:30 p.m.

· Saturday, from 9:30 a.m., to 4:30 p.m.

· Sunday, from 1:30 p.m., to 5 p.m.

· Feb. 23-25, from 9:30 a.m., to 8:30 p.m.

For more information about the book fair, call Arcuria at (770) 210-5238, or e-mail her at arcuriaj@claytonpl.org.

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On the Net:

Clayton County Public Library System: http://www.claytonpl.org/

Scholastic Book Fairs: http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/