While still months away, volunteers with the Friends of the Tellico Village Library are already hard at work preparing for the 25th annual used book sale.

The sale serves as a major fundraiser for The Public Library at Tellico Village, and to be a success, volunteers hope to put out 15,000 books for sale.

“We aim to get 15,000 books, but as we go through those boxes, optimistically if we get 50 percent of them that are sellable at the book sale then we can find homes for a lot of them,” Judy Groom, book sorter, said. “… So that means we need to get donations of 30,000 books, of which we hope to glean 15,000 for the book sale. That’s a lot.”

Groom and Betty Moore meet weekly to sort donated items in the library annex. The duo and sale co-chairwoman Lori Hall were bundled up Friday in layers to battle the cold as they determined which books they could mark for sale, which would be handed over to online vendors and which would be recycled.

Volunteers put in 400 hours last year sorting books for the sale.

“This is the time of year that it’s tough weather-wise, and, of course, we do this in the middle of the summer as well, and it can be 100 degrees in there and I have to wear a sweatband because I’m blinded by water pouring down off of my head,” Groom said. “... We’ve probably got about 20-25 boxes of books in there that need to be sorted. Betty and I will do the best we can to get through them today, and if we don’t get them all we’ll come back next week and finish up.”

The sorting process has changed over the years for volunteers. Previously, each item was priced no matter the condition.

“I mean it did not get pitched unless it was totally falling apart, which meant we had a whole lot that we had to get rid of at the end of the sale,” Moore said. “Finally, somebody got smart enough to say we don’t really need medical advice from the ‘60s and ‘70s. So health and fitness was the first area that they started putting a timeline on.”

While there are less books to price, Groom and Moore must work harder to pick the right books.

“With the advent of online libraries people aren’t reading books anymore, so we battle that,” Groom said. “... We want to stay relevant, so it’s extra important for us to put out a good selection of books that will pique people’s interest.”

Additional volunteers help sort books into boxes by category and load them onto pallets once a large number has been deemed sellable. There are currently about six full pallets.

Moore on Friday put out donation bins around Tellico Village. Bins are located at the library, Chota Recreation Center, Wellness Center and Welcome Center.

“January is a good month (for donations) from the standpoint of people who have these new year’s resolutions, turn over new leaves cleaning out the house, cleaning out the book shelves,” Bloom said. “I think that’s what we’re getting. Then the real push starts Feb. 1 with publicity and all that. That’s when we’ll spur people on.”

Volunteers are hoping to see a big influx of donations as they make a push in the coming months.

“Last year at this book sale we were about 10 percent down on meeting the goal of 15,000 books,” Groom said. “Right now we’re down, and I hope we won’t be down more than 20 percent. If we have 20 percent less books donated and less books to sell, that correlates to sales and profit. So whether or not there will be a direct correlation of 20 percent here and 20 percent on our income I don’t know, but we’ll definitely be down.”

The book sale accounts for about 10 percent of the library’s annual budget, which goes toward paying the facility’s mortgage and providing various programs throughout the year.

“It’s vitally important,” Hall said. “It’s one of several big fundraisers for the library every year. The one thing that became crystal clear to me this year when the library was flooded a few months ago and we didn’t have it for a while — I think this library means a lot to people of Tellico Village.”

Donations for this year’s sale will be collected through April 14. The sale is scheduled for April 25-27.

“Here’s a place you can take your used books and know that we’ll do the best we can with them,” Groom said. “We’ll put them on the shelves, we’ll sell them and the money directly benefits the library. We will do the best we can to find a home for your used books. … Books are sometimes very precious to people.”