The Free ARC Book Fair

Kenny Brechner -- June 7th, 2018

I don’t know if necessity is the mother of invention but they are at least close relatives. Take ARCs, for example. We’ve always hated not finding them a good home once their sale date has come and gone. What is the definition of a good home? I have always considered it to be any place that allows the ARC to further achieve its reason for being, promoting a particular book and providing engagement with reading in general.

Karin among her charges.

A dumpster does not fit that definition. That being so we have undertaken to find creative uses for our post sale date ARCs which honor their peculiar mission. Our Blind Date With A Book program involves wrapping them and then putting them on offer for donations to our School Library Fund. We also use them in various literacy outreach programs in classrooms. Nonetheless our ARC outreach struggles to keep up with our need to dispose of, that is to say re-purpose them and thereby extend their lives.

Our quest to find a means to make distribution meet demand seemed solved last year. Karin had read about the Little Library movement and we took thought to approach our school library partners to see about establishing Book Houses in area schools to be fed with post-sale date ARCs and asking for review submissions from their readers. Everything seemed all set. We received a grant from a local organization to pay for the Book Houses and in the meantime began stockpiling ARCs. That was a year and a half ago. Our ARC boxes began piling up like Oobleck. The book houses were repeatedly delayed. We finally got a firm date for their construction: November 2018. We were in fact completely overrun with ARCs. We had more than 600 and no room to store them anymore.

It was then that necessity and invention got involved. Karin, whose son is in middle school, had the idea of giving them away as a summer reading gift, one for each student at Mt. Blue Middle School. This was a sensational idea by any standard and we approached the school who welcomed it with open arms. What we arranged for was a free ARC book fair. All the books were spread out in the school gym  where classes came down in waves to pick out their ARC. We put in bookmarks asking the kids to send us their reviews. It was a giant hit! Excitement about reading on a delightful scale. And our ARCs. We’re stockpiling them again as I write this. Here are some photos!

 


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7 thoughts on “The Free ARC Book Fair

  1. Katharine Kan

    I did a mini-version of this in my school library; I loaded a tall, 4-shelf book cart with ARCs and donated books that were a little too worn to add to the collection. I divided them roughly by age: Adult, Teen, grades 3-5, PreK-grade 2. Then I announced the giveaway to all the teachers. I actually had to add more titles to the book cart as students, teachers, and parents had fun picking up free books.

  2. Andrea Schlimgen

    I have my own Little Library and always welcome ARCs! I know many other LFL stewards feel the same way. They are in communities all over the world and enjoy everything from board books to adult fiction/nonfiction. I’d love to be a part of an ARC fair for my son’s school too! Great idea!

  3. Binnie Syril Braunstein

    If there are free ARCS for any age from infant to teen floating around, Operation Paperback would be very interested in receiving them. Operation Paperback – http://www.OperationPaperback.org – is a 5013c charity. Our mission is to provide free (!) reading materials to deployed troops, vets, military hospitals, etc. Military families with young children are a huge part of our clientele. If anyone is interested, please contact me at BSBGC at AOL dot Com and i’ll be glad to provide further details.

    Binnie Syril Braunstein
    Telephone Support Coordinator
    http://www.OperationPaperbackorg
    BSBGC@aol.com

  4. Jill Porco

    I think a free book fair for extra ARCs would be great to have at shelter for the homeless or a soup kitchen. Like everyone else, many teens in those places want to read! A self-chosen ARC would mean a lot to them in a world that gives them more limited life choices than to others of privilege.

  5. VickeyB

    What a genius idea! A great way to start the summer for the local school children; and a project you can easily repeat at the end of each school year.

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