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According to their press releases, the Multnomah County Library system has the largest circulation of any library system in the country. Although I don't know what method they used to get to these numbers, I can believe that the "multcolib" (as they are known on The Streets), is near or at the top in the amount of materials going though people's hands. Apparently, the library possesses so many books that they have to have such a loose renewal policy (up to 150 items checked out, renewed up to 50 times at 3 week intervals) to encourage people to keep lots of books in their homes, because the library doesn't have room to hold them all.

In other words, the Multnomah County Library has lots of books. Books that are constantly being worn out, superseded, obsoleted, or otherwise no longer needed on the library shelves. Most libraries have this problem, but most libraries can manage to deal with the problem by holding an annual or quarterly book sale. The Multnomah County library, with its two million volumes, has enough titles being shed to have its own full time used book store.

And what a book store it is! Although it is volunteer run and has slightly reduced hours, it is still larger and with a greater selection than the average medium sized book store. And since it is full of material that the library is keen on moving as quickly as possible, the prices there are at or below thrift store levels, ranging anywhere from 25 cents for some paperbacks to around five dollars for most hardbacks to double digit prices for large coffee table books. Along with the low prices, another great thing about the Title Wave is it feels as much like a library as it does a bookstore. The books are arranged in the Dewey Decimal System, and many of the books are items that are more commonly found in libraries than in bookstores, such as square bound magazine and journal collections, and large reference books.

If there is a downside to the Title Wave, it is that their collection comes from the books that are the most checked out and wear out the quickest, meaning that they get a disproportionate number of cheap paperback books on fad diets and the like, as well as lots of cheap inspirational books, travel guides, and other books that are popular but wear out quickly, but not a lot of books on science, philosophy or literature. But, of course, the thrill of the hunt is a large part of the appeal of this particular bookstore.

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