On the 5 October The Courtauld will host its annual Book Sale. With books stacked in every possible space, ready for all to buy, we sent two of our finest roving reporters to meet our dedicated team of volunteers in the midst of preparing for what is widely to be known as ‘Christmas for literary lovers’.
A few days before the start of The Courtauld annual Book Sale, the view inside Seminar Room 4 was strikingly different from its usual serenity. The classroom was overflowing with mounds of books, stacks of austere looking boxes, and layers of sticky notes with illegible scribbling. What appeared to be the chaotic aftermath of an academic maelstrom was in fact the deliberate and delicate work of this story’s three heroes—Eva, Vivian, and Mike. These three volunteers have been in the trenches of Seminar Room 4: unloading boxes, sorting books, and pricing them. Mike remarks that it’s not just his altruistic spirit that keeps him coming back, but rather the first place in the sale’s queue his work earns him. Regardless of motive, their work is completely indispensable. These individuals have been instrumental in the continuation of this Courtauld tradition since its origin with Jane Ferguson. An alumna herself (MA ’75), Ferguson is also responsible for the founding of The Courtauld’s Student Newspaper.
The sale originated from a small collection of books that had been donated over the years—about ten boxes. When deciding how the books should be used it was realised that the books could be sold, and the funds used to help students. Now an annual affair, The Courtauld receives about 4000 books for each event. Today the money earned by this sale goes into a travel fund, allowing equal access to various travel opportunities for students at the Institute. Last year the sale alone raised around £18,000.
Alumni provide some of the most substantial contributions to the sale, showing their lasting commitment to The Courtauld’s culture of self-sustainability and cross-generational intellectual exchange. Additional donations are accepted from various public and private libraries, publishers, and individual collectors, as well as from The Courtauld’s library.
Secret insider advice from the book sale veterans:
“The first day is extremely busy. Get there fast. Get there early.”
Written by Farhad Manouchehri (MA, 2015) and Tate Waddell
Click here for more information about the Book Sale