The first American Association of University Women Walla Walla Affiliate-sponsored book sale — dubbed a “Book Fair” — initially appeared downtown in April 1964, offering “old books, used books, funny books, history books — all kinds and types.”
The annual fundraiser has relocated several times, in a round robin of who’s who and what’s where in terms of committee chairwomen, locations and storage areas.
The affiliate’s 56th annual book sale will be 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 21-22 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 23 at The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, 6 W. Rose St.
The sale has come a long way from its humble beginnings, said Kay Raddatz, who co-chairs the project with fellow AAUW member Melanie Plantaric.
Past Book Sale chairwomen/co-chairwomen are Barbara Stubblefield, Joyce Fogg, Jenny Romine, Kathy Foster, Beth Kreger, Carol Morgan, Jeanne Beirne, Becky Guinn and Jeanine Johnston.
Writer and AAUW member Diane Reed in researching for her 2018 article for the Union-Bulletin Lifestyles magazine, discovered information about the book sale fundraiser’s beginnings.
In the early years, Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls helped collect book donations and the proceeds supported fellowships at the national level. In the late 1970s the chapter decided to start funding scholarships for local women. Fourteen years ago AAUW started a mini-grant program to fund local nonprofits that support the AAUW mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.
During the first few years, books were collected from members and stored in garages and basements, said Linda Howell, one of the first Book Sale co-chairs.
Books were stacked no boards and cement blocks at the former Eastgate Mall on Wilbur Avenue.
When Blue Mountain Mall opened in the 1980s on West Rose St., the sale moved to that location and members stored books there before the sale.
After a few years, a new storage area was needed and member/Book Sale co-chair Winnie Graham, who worked at the VA, found an empty garage there for storage, which was kept unlocked. Books were moved to the sale using pickups, vans and member Linda Brown’s horse trailer.
In the first years, the books were not sorted until they arrived at the sale. For a time the sale was in what is now the Sears store on Main Street and eventually relocated to its current home at The Marcus Whitman Hotel.
Books are currently sorted and stored in the former Ice Chalet on Birch Street, next door to the YWCA.