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The American Association of University Women

The American Association of University Women

 Book Sales Funding Women’s Education  

By Danae Grigsby 

What started out as a few books in dusty basements has evolved into one of the premier book sales in the Pacific Northwest. The book-loving community of the American Association of University Women use their passion for books to help women and children get an education.  

The AAUW book sale hosts used book sales annually in the Marcus Whitman Ballroom. Due to COVID-19, they were unable to host their event this year. However, on October 23, 24, 30, and 31, they are hosting a pop-up book sale at the decommissioned ice chalet on Birch Street.  

The AAUW was started 57 years ago by university women who would collect books and save them in their basements or anywhere else they could store them. They were inspired by the want to share the power of an education with other women. From this came AAUW’s mission statement: to advance education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. 

Melanie Plantaric, co-chair of the Walla Walla chapter of the AAUW book sale, accepted her position 10 years ago. She was led by her love for books and her desire to contribute to the community. Plantaric says, “The AAUW book sale may be secular, but it reminds me of a church because our mission is to help.” [1] 

Book sale ladies: AAUW’s mission is to advance education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. Photo by Union Bulletin.

Helping others is exactly what they do. The main goal of the AAUW book sale is to help women who have had their education interrupted and are finishing their degrees. With annual events consisting of 40 different categories and over 40,000 books, the sales raise a large amount of money each year. It is enough to give out scholarships, grants, and educational opportunities to women and girls in the community through the Blue Mountain Community Foundation. Most of the scholarships go to women at Walla Walla Community College, but they reach out to others as well. Each year they give out around ten additional educational grants, and fund unique learning opportunities for women. Two women are chosen to be sent on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. for a leadership conference, and girls get to go to STEM camp through a program called Tech Trek. These are only some of the opportunities they offer.  

Walla Walla’s AAUW Book Sale chapter is the largest in the state of Washington, a fact that Plantaric attributes to their strong community of like-minded people. She says, “Working on a common mission builds engagement. People become more involved with the mission and have fun doing it.” [2] 

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If people would like to show their support, the AAUW is always looking for new members and volunteers, whether to help at events or to sort books throughout the year. Helping by attending the book sale, showing support, and buying books is always welcome. 

As Plantaric discovered, embracing your inner bibliophile can open the door to something even more valuable and enduring than books—the educational advancement of women and girls in our community. Plantaric says, “When people get involved, they really understand how much good we do in the community. Everybody needs a purpose in life.” [3] 


  1. Interview with Melanie Plantaric. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Interview with Kay Raddatz.
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