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Support this year's scaled-down Times Colonist Book Drive

There won’t be a Times Colonist book sale this year — but there will be a scaled-down book collection, this Sunday.
Volunteers work the 2020 edition of the Times Colonist book drive at the Breakwater District at Ogden Point in Victoria on Aug. 8, 2020. This year's event is being held at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

There won’t be a Times Colonist book sale this year — but there will be a scaled-down book collection, this Sunday.

We had hoped to bring back the annual Times Colonist book drive and sale this summer, but the lingering impacts of COVID-19 dashed those dreams. An event in which thousands of people line up to mill about shoulder-to-shoulder over tables of books just isn’t on.

Still, we want to help the Vancouver Island school libraries and literacy projects that have, every year since 1998, come to rely on money raised through the newspaper’s charity fundraiser. So, we are going to hold a modified version of the book drive, collecting donations ourselves but selling them through a third party.

We will accept books at a drive-through drop-off at the Victoria Curling Club on Quadra Street this Sunday. Russell Books will then buy the donations from the Times Colonist Literacy Society en masse (a similar scheme last year saw the company write a cheque for $30,000) before reselling them through the store.

The thing is, Russell’s simply can’t handle the volume of donations the book drive normally brings in. Even after donating thousands of books to the region’s little free libraries, there just isn’t enough space to store them.

That’s why we’re limiting the book drop-off to one day only, and asking readers to be judicious in what they donate. Think quality, not quantity. Please, no truckloads of books. As usual, we cannot accept encyclopedias, old textbooks, magazines or Reader’s Digest books.

Our plan for Sunday is based on extreme awareness of COVID-19 protocols. Health and safety are top priorities. Our team members have all been vaccinated, and will all have masks and gloves. They will work in bubbles to limit contact.

The dropoff will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St. Volunteers will direct traffic in and out of the Pembroke Street entrance (please don’t enter or leave via Caledonia). If it looks as though the line-up is tailing onto main roads, please run some errands and try later. Mornings are usually the busiest.

When you arrive, stay in your vehicles. Have the books in bags or boxes in the back where volunteers can grab them and transfer them to shopping carts.

Those carts will go to Russell Books staff members, who will organize them onto pallets in the curling club. The carts will be cleaned repeatedly throughout the day.

Remember, this is just a stopgap. Our goal is to return to a big book collection and big sale next spring.