Volunteer has helped build one of the largest book sales in the state


The 46th annual Dayton Book Fair will return to the Coliseum Building at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 1043 S. Main St., Dayton, across from Miami Valley Hospital. Free parking is available near the Coliseum Building.

Thursday, Nov. 10 — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

$10 admission, all day

Friday, Nov. 11 — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free admission

Saturday, Nov. 12 — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free admission

Sunday, Nov. 13 — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Bag Sale Day – Free admission – $7.50 per bag (sales tax included)

Monday, Nov. 14 — 8 a.m. to noon

Clean Sweep Day – Pay $1 admission, take all the books you want.

More than four decades ago, a volunteer organization decided to put together a book fair to support charity. What began as the Planned Parenthood Book fair, has evolved and today is run by the Book Fair Foundation.

Larkin Vonalt of Dayton has been involved for more than eight years and initially came on as a volunteer because she simply loved books.

“I was a regular volunteer when I started and did that for a few years,” Vonalt said. “I found I was being pulled in too many different directions, so I took a break.”

Vonalt was invited to return in 2014, but in a leadership capacity to help run the annual Book Fair, which was beginning a transformation of sorts upon her return to the organization.

“Initially the organization was formed in 1970 to raise money for Planned Parenthood,” Vonalt said. “They were beneficiaries of the proceeds but 2014 was the final sale we did for them.”

According to Vonalt, the Book Fair Foundation “parted company” with Planned Parenthood and decided to reorganize and change beneficiaries each year.

“We never again wanted to be in a position of just benefiting one group,” Vonalt said. “We also want to make sure the organizations we supported have a local focus.”

In 2015 the Book Fair Foundation benefited four Dayton area nonprofit organization and this year, the proceeds will be split evenly among three groups: FilmDayton, K12 & TEJAS Gallery and Learning Tree Farm. In 2014, the sale brought in $44,000.

Beginning today (Thursday), the 46th annual Dayton Book Fair at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds is still the largest book sale in the state, featuring more than 50 tons of donated books, all sorted and arranged on tables by hand.

Vonalt is a full-time volunteer and works alongside other volunteers who spend as much or as little time as they wish taking in donations, sorting, categorizing and cleaning book and readying them for the sale each November.

“We are all here because we love books and want to keep them circulating as long as we can,” Vonalt said. “We want books to always be in the hands of readers.”

Vonalt developed her love of books growing up the daughter of two English professors. She is also a writer and former journalist.

“We receive, sort, price and pack books at the Book Loft, (located on Embury Park Road in Dayton),” Vonalt said. “We have about 25 volunteers who work regularly. We are also open to the public and invite people to donate or come in for a tour.”

With local nonprofits now benefiting from the proceeds of the Book Fair, Vonalt said she’d like to see more organizations apply. Interested 5013(C) organizations may send a letter of request by the end of December explaining why they would like to benefit from the sale.

“We also ask organizations to help us make the sale successful,” Vonalt said. “Lisa Grigsby from Film Dayton has been great this year. They send us volunteers and help promote our sale.”

The foundation receives donations year-round. Vonalt said people have been bringing books to the Book Loft for the past 13 years since it opened, but they also offer a pickup service as needed.

“Sometimes people are downsizing or moving and they call us, often from as much as an hour away,” Vonalt said. “We also have barrels in churches and at a couple of local charities and we have two roundups per year, which generate an enormous amount of donations.”

Not all books are in sellable condition, and those are donated to other charities, like Goodwill Industries. But each time a box of books comes in, Vonalt said it’s like Christmas and everyone is excited. “You never know what you are going to find, and it may be something you know a lot of people at the sale will be thrilled with,” she said. “We have new books and books that are 200 years old. It’s a neat collection of stuff. I love the fact that people come in with their kids, and they get huge stacks of books and nobody gets told no. It’s great to see.”

For more information, log on to www.daytonbookfair.com or call 937-999-4491.