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OTTUMWA — When Sonja Ferrell saw a line of more than 150 people on the first day of the Pages for Pennies on Friday, she had a feeling it was going to be a very good weekend.

Business owners love to come in to open up shop and find a long line of people waiting to get in. So do people who organize fundraisers. This time it literally paid off for the library, the Ottumwa Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Bridge View Center, Inc.

“Things are going well. We had a phenomenal first day,” said Ferrell, the library’s director. “We made as much the first day as we did the entire first year of the event.”

That progress shows up in more ways than money. Ferrell said some books are beginning to show up year after year. Not the titles; the actual books. People buy them at one sale and donate them for the next.

“I keep thinking that we got so many donations last year that we won’t get any this year,” said Ferrell, but so far that hasn’t been a problem.

It certainly wasn’t a concern for Ellen Nutt and her sister, Marianne Free. The latter drove to Ottumwa from Webster City just for the sale, and they had a shopping cart piled with books Saturday afternoon.

Asked what she reads, Nutt had a one-word answer: “Everything.”

There wasn’t a holy grail on Nutt’s list, just a look at whatever seemed to be interesting. It’s the third year the sisters have made the sale, and they said they didn’t understand why more people didn’t dive into reading with such an opportunity.

“They should. It’s a pretty inexpensive thing when you think about it,” Nutt said.

The question doesn’t apply to Ella Horn, 6, who found a book about wildflowers on Friday and was back to browse the next day. “I just like to read,” she said.

Ella said the opportunity to look at so many books was a good one, even if many of them were still a bit too advanced for her. And that’s the thing. At that age, the lesson that reading is enjoyable is as valuable as anything else.

Comments like that are music to the ears of fellow readers. And it won’t be long before readers like Ella are the ones lining up to wait for the doors to open, and maybe even bringing back a book for another reader to love.

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Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.