The Friends of the Aldrich Public Library’s winter banquet and auction is being replaced this year by an online auction. Items include antiques, art, crafts, food, and books given by Friends members and community library supporters. The auction, available at 32auctions.com/AldrichFriends, will run from Feb. 1 to March 2. The highlight of the auction will again be a homemade pie by Marilyn Blake, who promises to bake whatever flavor the winner would like whenever he or she would like it. Blake’s priceless pies have sold for $75 or more at past live auctions and, according to previous winners, are well worth every penny. Some of the other items include a print by artist Fred Swan, several autographed books, two handmade fleece teddy bears, a “maple extravaganza,” an antique chair, and a full set of “Harry Potter” books. When it is safe to do so, legislators Tommy Walz and Peter Anthony will conduct a tour of the State House, and Guy Isabelle will gladly drive and haul with his truck for a day. Twenty lots will be available in the auction and can be bid on in a manner similar to eBay. Each lot has a starting bid, and the auction host, 32auctions, will let bidders know when they have been outbid so that they can make another bid. A fun, friendly spirit of competition is the hallmark of online auctions, just as it is with live and silent auctions. Payment is by credit card or PayPal. All winners will be notified after 5 p.m. on Town Meeting Day, March 2, and will be able to pick up their items at the library on Saturday, March 6. Donations to the Friends are also gratefully accepted via the auction site.A community tradition in Barre, the Friends’ 2020 winter banquet and auction attracted over 100 people at the Barre Elks Club just days before COVID-19 made it impossible for groups to meet. Unfortunately, the Friends also were not able to hold their popular summer book sale. Meanwhile, the Aldrich Library staff developed unique services this year for the public, including virtual storytimes, book giveaways, story walks in the town forest, curbside pickup, and more. The Friends supported all of these efforts and are optimistic about supporting programs in 2021, despite a current difficult fundraising environment. While the winter banquet and auction usually relies heavily on donations from generous Barre businesses, Christine Litchfield, president of the Friends said, “We don’t feel it’s right to ask local businesses and restaurants, which are already stretched thin due to the pandemic.” She went on to say that more people can be involved than normally come to the banquet/auction: “People can bid at any time of the day or night — even in their pjs!” A link to the online auction is available on the library’s homepage: aldrichpubliclibraryorg. For more information about the auction, call Marianne Kotch, Friend of the library, 476-4185.