Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

February 28, 2007

Friends of NIU Libraries will help determine
what your rare book is worth

DeKalb, Ill. — Ever wonder what that old book that grandma gave you might be worth? Or how about that first-edition children’s classic, or your coveted comic book? Friends of Northern Illinois University Libraries can help.

The group will hold a Book Appraisal Fair from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 18, in the Marshall Gallery of Swen Parson Hall on the NIU campus. The event is open to the public.

“It’s like the ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ but with books,’ said Angie Schroeder, a senior library specialist who is helping organize the event.

Appraisals will cost $5 per book or set, although members of the Friends of NIU Libraries will receive their first seven book appraisals free of charge. Thomas Joyce of Thomas J. Joyce & Company and the Chicago Rare Book Center, who has also appeared on HGTV’s “Appraisal Fair,” and Bill Butts of Main Street Fine Books in Galena will serve as book appraisers.

“The Friends of NIU Libraries wanted to put together an event that would be really inviting to the public,” said Lynne Thomas, head of rare books and special collections for NIU Libraries and the faculty liaison to the Friends.

“The market for rare books is quite active,” she added. “We hope that the fair will draw a wide range of people, from those who might be curious about something they found on their shelves, to those serious collectors who want to show off their prizes and see what other people have.”

Thomas receives frequent inquiries from people wanting information about book values but is prohibited by law from providing appraisals. Old books aren’t inherently valuable, she cautioned, while some new books could have great value, depending on market trends.

“First-edition children’s books that are in good condition tend to be quite collectible,” Thomas said. “African-American-related materials have had a surge recently. Civil War materials are always sought after, and in Illinois, so are materials related to Abraham Lincoln.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Friends of the NIU Libraries. More information about the Friends can be found online at

Free parking is available at NIU on weekends in most campus parking areas. A campus map is available online at For more information on the book fair, call (815) 753-8091.