Volunteers with the Friends of the Library’s book committee and gift shop stand in the used bookstore and Friends Gift Shop Oct. 24.

Volunteers with the Friends of the Library’s book committee and gift shop stand in the used bookstore and Friends Gift Shop Oct. 24.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


Friends bookstore helps support library

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 26, 2018

 Volunteer Beverly Coppens sorts books for sale in the bookstore or in one of the Friends of the Library’s sales.

Volunteer Beverly Coppens sorts books for sale in the bookstore or in one of the Friends of the Library’s sales.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — More than a year after it opened, the Friends of the St. Clair Shores Public Library used bookstore has its own sign, and members are hoping to spread the word about the thousands of books that are available on its shelves.

In the space adjacent to the southeast side of the library, where a cafe was operated for many years, the Friends now operate a used bookstore after the city couldn’t find another tenant to operate the cafe.

With titles ranging in price from a quarter up to $5 for new releases, the genres and topics packed onto the shelves are endless. While the Friends host two regular annual book sales, as well as a few other seasonal and bargain book sales throughout the year, opening up a bookstore in the Reading Lounge has been a way for them to find homes for even more donated books.

Norma Maxvill, publicity director for the Friends, said that when Library Director Rosemary Orlando approached the group and asked if they had a need for the space, the resounding answer was yes, “not knowing what a big job we were getting into,” Maxville said.

“It’s fun work. The volunteers, we always have a really good time,” said Nancy Kennedy, who volunteers to sort books donated to the Friends each week and is also the treasurer of the Friends of the Library.

Since opening in July 2017, the venture has been successful, Maxvill said, but there are people who don’t know that it is there. The Friends of the Library recently paid to have the sign above the door facing the parking lot changed to say “Used Book Store” instead of “cafe.”

All the money earned in the store, which is also attached to the Friends Gift Shop, goes to support the library, paying for things that the city-funded budget can’t afford.

There are at least 1,000-1,500 books on the shelves of the used bookstore, arranged by category, but not alphabetically.

“We get a lot of amazement because we have so many books in so many categories,” said Mary Ann Widman, director of the bookstore. “It’s not alphabetical on purpose because we want people to look around.”

While the Friends used to sell used books year-round on tables near the Jefferson Avenue entrance, the bookstore enables the group to offer patrons all categories of books at all times, Widman said.

The space the store occupies is still available to be used by the public for meetings, groups or just a place to grab coffee from the vending machine.

“We’ve been able to sell books here we’ve never been able to sell,” said Eleanore Martens, book committee chair. “We can put them on a shelf up here and they’re gone.”

The store is open anytime the library is open; it is run on the honor system and patrons pay for their books by leaving cash in the yellow lockbox on the shelf. Customers can also pay for their books at the library checkout desk if they are uncomfortable putting money in the box.

Donations of books in salable condition, or magazines four months old or newer, are welcome to keep the store stocked. Maxvill said that there are usually enough books each week to occupy six women for one hour in sorting them.

To learn more about the Friends and how to join them or the library, visit scslibrary.org/friends.html.