Reader on the roof: Blind date with a bag of books

Are you familiar with the Yiddish word Yentl or Yenta? It’s slang for a person, especially a woman, who is a busybody or gossip. In the Broadway hit show Fiddler on the Roof it is the name of the character who plays the village matchmaker.

If you are graduate of 1973 at Juniata High School, you may well remember Fiddler was our senior class play. Who was Yentl, the matchmaker in that production? Molly Sheaffer.

In the past several weeks, I’ve worked with the staff on their “Yentl-ness” (not the busybody, gossipy definition) so we could all become matchmakers. Now, are you really confused because nothing I’ve said so far is related to the title of this column.

Blind date with a bag of books and matchmaking has come about because we are literally drowning in donations and absolutely cannot accept another single book!

In addition, this pandemic has fundamentally changed the ways we operate. Mask wearing, social distancing, quarantining items and limiting group gathering have impacted us in a variety of ways. Not being able to have our annual spring and fall book sales has left us with a $12,000 revenue shortfall.

We simply need to repurpose some of our donated items and hopefully make some money too. We can’t allow folks to browse these materials because then they would have to be quarantined over and over again. We can’t accommodate the crowds we usually experience at a booksale. What to do? What to do?

We’ve acquired large brown grocery bags. We sorted books by genre and/or nonfiction topics. We’ve bagged 5-10 similar books together and labeled each bag. Bags are spread out 6 feet apart on tables in the library. Grab a whole bag of books for $2 and you are on your way to a blind date with a bag of books.

Nope, you can’t open the bag to see what’s in it. No, you can’t return the bag(s) of books you bought. By no means should you ‘paw’ through the bags. If you pick it up, buy it, please.

If you have never been on a blind date this is an inexpensive way to have this experience. If you have been on a blind date, you either have a horror or a happily after story to tell. Which might you find in one of our bags?

Come on, you know you can’t resist trying this idea. What the heck, you’ve wasted $2 before in your life and it could turn out you hit the jackpot with one or more great books. You have very little to lose and the Library will gain, space and revenue. Get your blind date bag now.


Dr. Molly S. Kinney is the Director at the Mifflin County Library. Her blind date book this week is The A List (Ali Reynolds No. 14) by J.A. Jance. While it’s not the book of her dreams it is better than most blind dates she’s had in her life.


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