Queen of the hill (of books) All photos by FANG SU
Cecily Stone can add prices and make change quicker than students more than a third her age – after all, she’s had thirty years of practice at the Victoria College Book Sale, launched in 1992.

Victoria College Friends of the Library, an alumni organization supporting the E.J.Pratt library on Vic campus, hosted its annual book sale this week, filling several rooms with donated volumes as the library’s major fundraiser. Cecily Stone was a founding organizer of the Victoria College Book Sale from the year it started, after a generous donation of books from Vic grad and Friend of the Library David Honiger.

“I wanted us to have our sale take place before the other sales on campus, which were in October, so we put the date of ours for the last weekend in September,” Cecily recalled. “After all the hard work, we made $12,000, which wasn’t enough for all the work we put in. And the next year we made $60,000. And the next year $120,000.” The book sale is now the single largest fundraiser for the library, grossing $1.5 million so far.

Current chair of the Vic Book Sale, Vanessa Quinn, added, “We used to be in Cat’s Eye and it was so crowded and the boxes were everywhere, and half the people didn’t know how to get there.” The sale was soon moved to the Old Vic building, filling both alumni hall and the chapel with books, CDs, DVDs, records, and vintage magazines.

Cecily, like most of the sale volunteers, has stayed connected with the college since graduating in 1949. “I entered in the college alumni; I was on the board ... then I was part of Friends of the Library. It’s been very gratifying, and it brings alumni back to the college.”

Victoria College has a strong connection with the alumni community, from hosting monthly meet-and-greets to taking in large donations to assist student clubs and services. About half of the funding for the new Goldring Student Centre, a project to create a hub for student activities, comes from generous donations from Vic alumni. Among volunteers at the book sale, one couple met at the sale itself, and another was married in the chapel in which books were on sale this week.

Since its opening, Cecily has seen the Vic book sale blossom from a couple of key improvements. “We’ve been taking advantage of Word on the Street,” a book festival now in its fifth year held in Queen’s Park right next to Victoria College. “We [also] extended the sale to Tuesday, which has been very beneficial.”

Cecily Stone tenderly flips open the cover of a stack of books to check the price. She scribbles a receipt on a scrap of paper and hands it off to the young bibliophile across the table. After three decades of selling books, Cecily Stone keeps coming back to Victoria out of love and devotion for the school she calls home.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: A founding member’s insight into the history of the Vic Book Sale
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