More than 300 people packed the Ben Robertson Community Center and flipped through hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs, filling boxes and crates with stacks of “new” items.
The annual event began in 2007, and is modeled off of a Parks and Recreation event from a town in Ohio, Mayor Mark Mathews said, and relies on dozens of volunteers to run smoothly.
On Thursday and Friday evening this week, residents dropped off their gently-used books, CDs and DVDs to the community center and volunteers sorted through them. On Saturday, they were arranged on tables by genre throughout the main room in the center.
Residents meandered throughout the room and were allowed to take home as many books as they had donated, free of charge. For example, if someone had dropped off 13 books, they were allowed to take 13 new books home Saturday.
Gina Conway had to borrow a luggage cart to transport her 149 new books to the trunk of her car. The self-described book lover has been coming to the event for four years, and looks forward to the annual swap so she can get some new books for free.
“It’s a nice way to be able to read what you want and have a good-looking library that changes annually,” she said.
Navia Gutta, 16, traded 29 books this year between herself and her two younger siblings, Nitya, 14, and Nevin, 10. She said this year there were more books than she remembered there being last year.
The three rounded up a stack of books which included the entire “Twilight” series, “Hunger Games” books and a fair number from the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. After helping clean up the remaining, un-swapped books, the three said they were going home that afternoon to read.
While the official count of the number of books that were donated and swapped Saturday won’t be released until Monday afternoon, Lindsey Pritchard, the recreation and programs coordinator for the city said there were hundreds involved this year.
Residents pulled their cars around to the doors of the community center and lugged bags and boxes filled with books out to their trunks.
The few boxes filled with books that hadn’t been picked up would be donated to local charities, Pritchard said.
“We do this event because it is a great service for our community and they enjoy it year after year,” Mathews said.