Starting today: a book lover’s dream

Professor Carole Carpenter, master of York’s Vanier College, can tell a lot about a book by its cover  – and its donor.

As she collects books for the 4th Annual Vanier College Book Sale, she marvels at the variety, scope and value of the donated books. The sale, which begins today and runs until March 1, offers thousands of new and used books donated by the York community.

Right: Vanier College Master Carole Carpenter with a rare first edition of Jalna, by Mazo De La Roche

"Faculty members seem to love mysteries and self-help books," she chuckles. "I think it is because academics are always solving puzzles. They also like to control their own destinies and many are do-it-yourself kinds of people and that is why we have self-help books on everything imaginable."

Carpenter and her team of volunteers have collected so many books for this year that she won’t be able to put out the entire stock today. "We have 50 per cent more books this year and the stock will be refreshed every day," says Carpenter. "We’ve added a number of new categories including one for all the books on war and conflict we’ve received and a new category for urban studies."

In addition to a treasure trove of mysteries, popular fiction, self-help tomes, textbooks, cookbooks and biographies, there are also gift books, posters and a new table of audio books. "Some of the items donated are brand new and haven’t been taken out of their plastic covers," said Carpenter. "We also have a number of real finds – rare books and antiquarian books that are beautifully preserved."

Included in these treasures is a rare book of Sherman Hines photography that includes an autographed Hines print; a 1925 first edition of Mazo De La Roche’s epic tale Jalna; and, a 1944 illustrated volume of the work of British Conservative statesman and Victorian literary figure Benjamin D’Israeli.

Left: Some of the antiquarian books included in the sale

"All of these books are exquisitely preserved and presented," said Carpenter. "We won’t be pricing these books at antiquarian prices – our goal is to get these volumes into the hands of someone who will appreciate it, so a valuable book such as the D’Israeli book will be priced at just $5."

Funds raised by the sale will go directly into student space at Vanier College. Last year, close to $10,000 was raised and the proceeds were used to purchase flowering plants, trees and benches for the Vanier College courtyard.

This year, proceeds from the sale will go to the student-run Vanier College Productions (VCP) theatre club. Now in its 30th year, VCP suffered a major loss with the death last spring of its artistic director Fred Thury. (See the March 9, 2006 issue of YFile.) The theatre space endured an additional loss this year when it was closed by the fire marshal because it did not meet new fire code standards. Carpenter is hoping to use the funds to renovate the theatre and bring it up to the new fire code standard so it can be re-opened.

The sale will be staffed by students from VCP along with a dedicated team of volunteers from the Vanier College community.

The 4th Annual Vanier College Book Sale runs Feb. 26 to March 1, from 9am to 7pm, 152 Founders Assembly Hall on York’s Keele campus.

For more information, visit the Vanier College Web site.

This story was written by Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor.