Some of them have been there for as long as 10 months, but come Thursday, April 12, the thousands of books will emerge from limbo at the Towson Library.
The books have been donated by their previous owners and stored in boxes until the Friends of the Towson Library's annual book sale, which begins Thursday and stretches through the weekend. The annual sale provides the chance for a brighter future both for the used books and the library itself.
"It's our major fundraiser for the library," said Pat Fraher, president of the Friends of Towson Library. "It takes the whole year, but it's great fun."
Fraher said the group begins sorting books in June, just a few months after that year's sale.
When the books are donated, their first stop in the library is a stack of shelves in the rear of the staff room, right next to the desk where volunteer Ken Atwell sits.
The aisle between the stacks is barely wide enough to hold more than two people, but throughout the year, it's where books are sorted into their various genres by Friends volunteers.
"In this small space, so much gets done," Haire said.
From there, the books are boxed and brought to a large closet behind the stage area in the Towson Room, where they're kept. The boxes are stacked 10-high and at least 10 rows deep, each labeled with the genre of books it contains.
On Wednesday evening, the boxes will be laid out in both the Towson Room and Wilson Room of the library by a team of volunteers that will include Boy Scout Troop 792 from Loch Raven United Methodist Church.
"We need the strong young backs," Fraher said. "A lot of us can't even lift our boxes."
Most of the funds from the sale go right back into the library.
"We think very hard about how to use their money to get the best bang for their buck," said Jennifer Haire, branch manager at the Towson Library.
According to Haire, the building is full of items purchased by book sale funds in years past.
Just last year alone, the Friends' group funded eight study stations with built-in electric, a pair of pyramid displays on the library's main floor, indoor and outdoor signage, and tables, chairs, and playthings for the toddler area.
In years past, the Friends have paid for comfortable seating in the quiet study area, the outdoor playable art feature, as well as the television, flooring, shades, and furniture in the cafe. Additionally, the Friends also annually pay for the interior and exterior landscaping at the library.
"Anything pretty you see in that garden, they have funded," Haire said.
"The important part is that the Friends have continued to increase their profit over the years, and it's also become a nice tradition for the Towson area," she said.
Last year's sale raised around $13,000, Fraher said.
"We're just hoping to raise as much money as we can so we can give it back to the library," Fraher said. "We're just always hoping for $10,000 or more."
The four-day Friends of the Towson Library book sale begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, with a three-hour first-choice sale, which is free to members of the Friends group and at a cost of $10 to all other buyers. The public portion of the sale runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.