Shoppers peruse books at the spring 2022 Friends of the Library sale. (Photo: Springfield-Greene County Library District)

The Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization that is exactly what its name suggests, is hosting its 38th annual book sale in Springfield later this month.

Funds raised from the sale can then be accessible for the Springfield-Greene County Library District in the form of grants for programs and projects.

The first book sale of 2023 is being held at the Ozark Empire Fairground’s E-Plex, 3001 N. Grant Ave. in Springfield, from April 26-30.

“Over the years, I have seen what they’re contributing to the Library,” said Regina Greer Cooper, the executive director of the Springfield-Greene County Library District. “So many things that we couldn’t do with just our tax money.”

From 1985 to now: Friends of the Library’s fundraising grows in its impact

In 1985, the Friends of the Library’s first book sale raised $2,516 for the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

Today, the group raises about $300,000 a year between a spring and fall book sale, reaching an all-time high in spring 2021 with $172,654.

Joyce Kastler, the treasurer for Friends of the Library, attributed that peak to the COVID-19 pandemic, after people “had already read and played all the puzzles and games they had.”

Cooper has seen the book sale’s impact firsthand, after watching it crack $100,000 in her first year with the district in 2009.

While the revenue from the sale has always helped the district fund a variety of things, The Friends of the Library issued what was, at the time, its largest grant ever — big enough for the District to buy a new bookmobile.

The organization’s impact has only grown and become more vital for projects and services in the district, culminating with a $500,000 donation for the renovations of the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library.

In addition, grants from Friends of the Library allowed the district to bring in Brit Bennett, David Sedaris and other famous authors, host Springfield Symphony Orchestra concerts and other performers and support events and gift prizes for participants of the district’s reading programs, among other projects.

Friends of the Library gives about $25,000 a year for a discretionary fund to help pay for expenses that come up that the Library didn’t anticipate.

Since the establishment of The Friends of the Library, which is made up entirely of volunteers, it has raised more than $4 million for the Library in nearly four decades.

(Photo: Springfield-Greene County Library District)

More than books, and for more than the library

For both the book sale, and the library, books are the name of the game. But the sale itself, where the merchandise is made up of donated items and retired items from Springfield’s libraries, there will be books, puzzles and other games, vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks.

“Besides supporting the library, we also support literacy in the surrounding community, just by providing books at a price people can afford,” Kastler said. “…It is an important event for Springfield.” 

Aside from membership dues, the book sale is the Friends of the Library’s only revenue stream. Its only expenses are the operational cost of the sale itself. 

Members and volunteers not only help run the sale, but sit on a grant committee and a board to review and approve grant applications from library staff members. 

“The library can set their priorities, so pretty well whatever they want to do, we try to support,” Kastler said. 

For April 26-28 the sale will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with all books starting at $1, with better books priced $2 and up. The sale is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, with everything half-priced. On the final day, on which the sale will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., patrons can fill up different bags full of books for either $1 or $5.

Purchases will not be taxed, and the Friends of the Library accepts cash and checks only.

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the government affairs reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee