A Sister Act: The Kingrey’s 32-Year-Long Family Tradition with the Annual Friends of the Plano Public Library Book Sale

Many Plano residents have made the Friends of the Plano Public Library Book an annual ritual for stocking up on books at bargain prices.  For sisters Kelly and Grady Kingrey, it’s a family tradition and a grand finale, capping a year of hard work.

The sisters helped sort the 100,000-plus books donated for the sale, which runs August 4 – 6 at Plano Event Center, 2000 E. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano and benefits the Plano Public Library System. This year marks their 32nd year volunteering at the sale as well as serving as “super sorters.” All year round, Grady and Kelly toil unpaid in the basement of Haggard Library, sorting and boxing up donated books in preparation for the sale.  Grady also trains many of the other volunteers.

When the big day arrives, Grady says, “We get to see the work we’ve done all year, all at once. Just before the sale opens, I stand on the stage and look out over all those books and think, ‘Wow.’ It’s quite exciting.”

Grady Kingrey (left) and her sister Kelly sort books in the basement of Haggard Library in preparation for the Friends of the Plano Public Library Book Sale. Photo by Mary Jacobs.

Grady and Kelly attended the very first book sale with their mother, Pooch Kingrey, in 1983. That year, it was held in a parking lot.  A few years later, they discovered they could volunteer and started pitching in. Pooch volunteered every subsequent year until she passed away in 2016, and earned a special recognition from the Friends of the Plano Public Library for her service.

The sisters love reconnecting with volunteers and customers who return every year, especially the youngsters, who often sit on the floor to read their newly-discovered literary treasures.

Books and libraries are a Kingrey family passion. Grady and Kelly both declined to name a favorite author – that’d be like picking a favorite child – but they read widely: classic literature, mysteries, popular fiction, science fiction and fantasy.

“When we were kids, Mom always took us to the public library,” Grady says.

“And wherever we travel, we visit the libraries,” Kelly adds. A few favorites include the Eureka Springs, Ark., Carnegie Public Library; the Pioneer Memorial Library in Fredericksburg, Texas (which still relies on an old-school card catalog); and the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Public Library, which boasts a beautiful view of a nearby lake.

Hundreds of volunteers turn up for the Book Sale from different groups, including Volunteers in Plano and students from local National Honor Society chapters.

“The sale has averaged about $45,000 in gross proceeds each year, which helps support the Plano libraries, and we couldn’t be successful without volunteers like Kelly and Grady,” said Scott Johnson, president of the Friends of the Plano Public Library.

The sisters enjoy helping shoppers find books at the sale, whether they’re looking for a coffee table book to fit a room’s décor, books by a specific author or a volume to complete a series.

“Whatever you want, it’ll probably be there,” says Kelly.

“And if you run into us,” Grady adds, “we can help you find it.”

Annual Friends of the Plano Public Library Book Sale

What: Hardbacks, paperbacks, DVDs, CDs and records at prices ranging from 25¢ to $2.

When: August 4, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Prices: Friday night, admission fee is $5 for individuals and $10 for families. Members of the Friends of the Plano Public Library enjoy free, early admission at 5 p.m. on Friday night, as well as a 10% discount on all purchases on any day of the Book Sale. (Shoppers may obtain a Friends membership online at www.friendsofplanolibrary.org or at the sale.)

Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  An extra Sunday incentive includes special pricing for all merchandise at $10 for a bag of books (and the Friends supply the bags!)