Lewis Griswold

Griswold: Visalia's AAUW keeps book sale alive in digital age

The American Association of University Women book sale in Visalia has been a gold mine for book lovers for more than 25 years.

Twice a year, thousands of used books are on sale at the reasonable price of $2 for hardbacks and $1 for paperbacks.

"They always have a really nice selection for everybody," said retired teacher Dennis Goodenough of Visalia as he browsed the religion table for his Bible study group.

The fall sale, at Sequoia Mall at Caldwell Avenue and Mooney Boulevard, ends Thursday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Other categories include westerns, mysteries, cookbooks, children's books, classics, reference and fiction. The books (and DVDs, CDs, books on tape and old records) are on tables with the spines up for easy browsing.

But will the Kindle, the Nook and other digital readers doom the old-fashioned book sale?

That's a question AAUW Visalia president Carol Seastrom has been pondering for a few years. Her conclusion: Not yet.

"It's really surprising," she said. "We just think we're going to hit the wall, but so far we're not. We're collecting like crazy."

In the past two years, the group has collected about 35,000 volumes a year and expects to do the same this year. Books are donated, including at drop-off sites such as the Lifestyle Center.

It's a logistical challenge to collect and store books, transport them and manage the sale, but the club's 155 members do it cheerfully in the name of education.

"One hundred percent of the money raised goes toward scholarships for local students," a flier states.

They made about $30,000 a year. Scholarship recipients are both men and women, many of them College of the Sequoias students, Seastrom said.

The group also sends eighth-grade girls to Tech Trek, a math and science summer camp at Fresno State, and contributes to a program to take youths to college compuses.

LOCAL ANGLE: Visalia teacher and singer Terese Lane reports that venerable country star Kenny Rogers -- he's being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this month -- just released his new album, "You Can't Make Old Friends," and there's a delightful local angle.

The recording includes "Dreams of the San Joaquin," a song written by former Visalia/Fresno songwriter Randy Sharp and writing partner Jack Routh.

"It's a song about the Okie migration to the Valley during the Dust Bowl, and has an echo chorus running behind it in Spanish," Lane said. The chorus "symbolizes how the story isn't over because we still have migrant farmworkers" -- from Mexico instead of Oklahoma.

Two summers ago at the White Horse Inn in Three Rivers, Sharp performed his song and Lane had the honor of singing the chorus in Spanish with Routh and Sharp's wife, Sharon Bays, and daughter, Maia Sharp.

"I loved it," she said.

WAITERS RACE: The 20th Waiters Race in downtown Visalia last week had great sibling rivalry.

Alley Taylor, server at Good Times Cafe, took first place in the women's quick-service division by besting her sister, Ashley Reeves, also a server at Good Times, who came in second.

There are two divisions: quick service and full service. Quick service racers carry drinks and an item on trays, while full service racers carry two glasses of wine and the bottle on trays.

First place in men's quick service went to Jordan Venema, barista at Starbucks.

In men's full service, Omar Oliva, server at Las Palmas Mexican restaurant, took top honors. He also won in 2008 through 2011.

And in women's full service, Liliana Lemus, server at Quail Park Retirement, took first place.

Lemus is a repeat winner from last year, as is Venema, and Taylor got a three-peat. Winners each get $1,000.