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Safety first when shopping at this weekend's Times Colonist Book Sale

It’s not easy sorting books while wearing masks and glasses, because try as we might, those lenses get foggy in a hurry. But it’s not as hard as trying to get through life through the fog of low literacy skills.
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Volunteers sort books for this weekend’s Times Colonist Book Sale at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

It’s not easy sorting books while wearing masks and glasses, because try as we might, those lenses get foggy in a hurry.

But it’s not as hard as trying to get through life through the fog of low literacy skills. That’s why a few hundred volunteers have been hard at it for the past couple of weeks, sorting books and preparing for the massive Times Colonist Book Sale this weekend at the Victoria Curling Club on Quadra Street.

The money we raise by selling books — for $1, $2 or $3 — goes back into the community through grants to schools and literacy organizations. Since we started this fundraiser in 1998, we have been able to donate more than $6 million.

The sale is made possible because of generous donors, eager buyers, willing sponsors, and — most important of all — those volunteers who do all they can to make the sale happen. They deserve our thanks and respect.

This will be our first public book sale since 2019, and it has been organized with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind.

All volunteers have been required to wear masks and to respect all the usual COVID protocols. And since many of them need glasses, the problem of foggy lenses has slowed their work.

Only a handful of volunteers have had issues with the mask mandate. Others have made it clear that without the mandate, they would not have taken part. They all want to do their bit to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

To make matters trickier, we have had many more donations than in previous years. We had mini-drives in 2020 and 2021, designed to keep money flowing into literacy projects, but it’s clear that most people simply held onto their books until the regular drive returned.

We appreciate that, to be sure, but it has meant a heavier workload for our volunteers. After taking Friday off (we hope), they will be back for the sale on Saturday and Sunday.

They will be responsible for keeping the tables in order, restocking and resorting the books as needed. They will guide buyers to their areas of interest, and help in any way they can.

You will be able to pick them out, thanks to their bright green shirts and their masks — because even on the sale days, masks are required for the ­volunteers and TC staff ­members.

We are asking all customers to wear masks as well, for the safety of everyone around you. We have come so far in this marathon called COVID, we don’t want to stumble now.

Our volunteers do not want to put themselves in harm’s way. The book drive would not be possible without their hard work. So please respect the people, and what they do.

During the sale, try to maintain safe distances from other buyers. The aisles are wider than they were in previous years, part of our effort to reduce the risk.

There are so many books, there will be no shortage of great titles, even in the closing hours on Sunday. The sale is usually most crowded on Saturday, so consider coming on Sunday instead.

The sale will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1952 Quadra St., right behind the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

Be patient and be calm. And please, despite the foggy glasses, wear a mask.

Thanks, in advance, for supporting literacy.

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