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On-line auctioneer Tobias raises extra money for Friends

May 23, 2005
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

Would you believe the Friends of the Davis Library has raised nearly a half-million dollars in 10 years?

The money has come from ongoing and weekend book sales at the library. A huge book sale at the former Hunt-Wesson cannery last fall raised $20,000.

“We were drowning in books,” said Dianne Tobias, membership chair.

Tobias, a UC Davis graduate who left the area but found her way back home a few years ago, says the Friends not only is committed to supporting the library financially, but to promoting literacy and recycling the readership of books.

“The enormous number of books donated to the Friends is a real success story,” she says. “But even with bimonthly book sales in the Blanchard Room and daily alcove sales, we still have many more books than we can sell, books that would be valuable to someone.”

But the seller has to find a buyer and this is where Dianne comes in. The computer savvy membership chair also knows her way around eBay like a pro and she has managed to sell a bunch of books over the Internet, providing the Friends with more than $2,000 in six months.

Volunteers help cull the donations to find one-of-a-kind, rare or unusual books. Since they don’t charge for their time and Dianne doesn’t charge for her time, the money from the on-line sales is pure profit for the library and by extension its users – you and me. Thank you, Dianne.

And like you and me, she is a reader and lover of books. She was born in Berkeley but her family moved quite a bit until she was in seventh grade and they returned to the Bay Area.

“I think a strong reason for loving books and reading is that they provided friendship in all the moving,” she said.

She attended UC Davis, graduating in 1967. Then it was on to UC San Francisco and a doctorate from the pharmacy school in 1971. She taught at two schools of pharmacy back East before coming back to Southern California and getting involved with the medication needs of seniors.

“I went into business for myself in 1998 and we moved to Davis later that year, waiting for our second of three children to graduate from high school,” she said.

She runs Tobias Consulting Services out of a downtown office. She and her husband have job skills that aren’t dependent on a specific place -- they could relocate based on community merit rather than occupational necessity.

“We were looking for a community environment -- and Davis won. The involvement in the Friends as a community service is exactly what I was looking for,” she said.

Dianne began as a Friends book sorter, putting donated books in the library alcove for sale. Eventually, she was convinced to take over membership and the database and eBay evolved from that.

Dianne says that many books donated to the Friends become part of the library’s collection while others are donated to schools, prisons, social agencies and other Friends groups trying to get started in fund-raising. Some are sold at Davis’ Right and Relevant consignment store and other less desirable books are sold by the box.

Susan Ragsdale and Hank Wyman help Dianne by identifying and researching books for their potential value and sale on eBay. She has sold about 200 books through this on-line auction site.

One thing Dianne didn’t expect was to sell a large number of books to people in foreign countries including Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“We have so many books -- the most important thing to me is that someone gets a book who enjoys it,” she said.

“One I placed a book with someone who found it important for his dissertation,” she said. “Another time I replaced a book for someone who knew the author.

“People are grateful,” she added. “And I find it extraordinary that someone in Japan can be reading about a book that I have in Davis.”

She sold a German language medical book that dated to the early 1900s and the official guide to the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco. She was surprised that she failed to sell an art book of self-portraits by well-known people.

“It’s still fun,” she said. “Part of the pleasure that I get is touching and at least glancing at books I would never otherwise see.”

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at gizmo@dcn.org and watch for more local writers to be featured biweekly at this web site.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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