Published May 30, 2018
It’s been estimated that the books gathered for this year’s local AAUW book sale number close to 200,000. They’ve been donated all year long by a variety of people from across the community.
But this year, thousands of books have come to the sale from an unusual source: the collections of recently deceased UB faculty members Ronald Batt and Jacques “Jack” Berlin.
Several years ago, the children of Batt, an internationally recognized physician and clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, began urging him to downsize his extensive library of books.
Batt had heard from a UB colleague about the annual book sale organized by the Buffalo Branch of the American Association of University Women to raise money for scholarships.
“He contacted me and thus began our yearly receipt of many books in his collection,” says Judy Clare, a former member of the book sale’s organizing committee. “We helped him box them up. He also started attending our sale.”
After Batt died in April 2017, his son contacted the book sale organizers to donate the remainder of his father’s library. “I know that he wanted us to use them for our fundraising,” Clare says. “He was a delightful friend of AAUW.”
AAUW’s Buffalo Branch also was a favorite avocation of Jack Berlin’s late wife, Clare says, noting that Lorna Berlin routinely donated her artwork to raffles and “tirelessly worked on the book sale as long as she was able.”
“She used to be chair of the children’s department (for the book sale),” she recalls. “Their children often assisted, and when younger had long lists of books for their mom to look for at the sale.”
So when Jack Berlin, research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health, died this spring, “It was not surprising that his children chose to donate his books to our sale,” she says.
Betty Preble, president of the local branch of the AAUW, notes that while the collections AAUW received from Batt and Berlin are unusual, donations for the sale often come from unexpected sources.
“This year we helped clean out the house of a — for want of a better term — book hoarder. He was not in a professional occupation, but was an omnivorous reader,” she says. “I can’t think of a category of books not represented in his collection.”
This year’s book sale is the 64th for the Buffalo Branch, which as a branch of the national organization, works to empower women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Books, DVDs, CDs, games and puzzles will be on sale during the five-day event that opens today. Most items sell for 50 cents to a dollar.
Proceeds from the annual book sale benefit scholarships — two UB graduate students are slated to receive a total of $15,000 in scholarships this year — and interest-free college loans to Western New York high school and college students, as well as community projects and programs.
Preble says the Buffalo Branch has provided support to the UB student chapter (which is currently inactive) to enable members to attend the AAUW-sponsored National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. The branch also helped sponsor an “ElectHer” conference on campus a couple of years ago that led to one of the student members winning the UB Student Association presidency.
In addition, AAUW national fellowships are available to local students and have frequently gone to UB students, she says.
Buffalo Branch members consider the book sale to be a community service in several ways, Preble explains. In addition to being a fundraiser, “it gives the local population a way to buy books that they might not otherwise be able to afford at a very reasonable rate. It also gives people a place to donate their loved-but-no-longer-needed books where they will go to another loving home,” she says. And at the end of the sale, “local nonprofits are invited to come in and take whatever they would like that’s still on the floor for their libraries, etc.”
The AAUW book sale will take place May 30 through June 3 at the former Buffalo Athletic Club at 4687 Transit Road, Williamsville, next to the Eastern Hills Mall. Admission prices and times for the sale can be found on the book sale’s website.