The nonprofit volunteer group Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library conducts book sales, assists with library programs and engages in other activities to support local library programming. This year marks the Friends’ 75th anniversary.

The nonprofit volunteer group Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library conducts book sales, assists with library programs and engages in other activities to support local library programming. This year marks the Friends’ 75th anniversary.

Photo provided by Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library

Grosse Pointe Public Library grateful for its ‘Friends’

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 26, 2023

GROSSE POINTES — What would life be without friends? It’s certainly not a thought the Grosse Pointe Public Library would like to entertain.

For 75 years now, the nonprofit Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library has been raising money and awareness for the community’s three libraries — the Woods Branch in Grosse Pointe Woods, Central Branch in Grosse Pointe Farms and Ewald Branch in Grosse Pointe Park. Bibliophile volunteers donate their time and energy to make sure the GPPL can retain its vibrant roster of programming. As the Friends state on their website, since their founding in 1948, they have been “dedicated to supporting and expanding the educational, cultural, and outreach programs of the library.”

They’re celebrating this milestone anniversary doing what they’ve always done, which includes operating a used bookstore in the Woods Branch, helping during events such as library visits to the Pointe parks over the summer, and distributing books to youngsters trick-or-treating in The Village on Halloween.

Besides being able to purchase books, puzzles, DVDs and more anytime from the Friends bookstore, the Friends have a bag sale on the last Saturday of each month during which people can fill a bag with items from the Friends’ basement storage area for $5, or purchase individual items for $1 apiece, said Friends Board President Tracy Magee.

“It’s really a good deal,” Magee said.

The next bag sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 29 at the Woods Branch, which is located next to Parcells Middle School at the intersection of Mack Avenue and Vernier Road.

Richard Larry, of Grosse Pointe Park, who stepped down from the Friends board in June after serving for more than a decade, compiled a history of the organization, which first met in the home of Lloyd and Jane Hooker on May 13, 1946. Articles of incorporation for the Friends were signed by Jane Hooker, the first Friends president, on May 3, 1948; other signers included Library Director Florence Severs and Marion Kellogg. The first project undertaken by the Friends was to obtain a spot for the Central Branch, which had been without a permanent home for its first 30 years. Friends member Dexter Ferry donated funds for the construction of the Central Branch — which was designed by famed architect Marcel Breuer — in 1951; Murray Sales also donated money for the library’s Grosse Pointe Farms location, which today is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Friends bookstore opened in the basement of the Woods Branch on May 17, 2007, which means it’s marking its own milestone anniversary — its sweet 16th birthday — this year. The bookstore moved to a spot on the first floor, adjacent to the entrance, when the Woods Branch reopened in September 2022 after undergoing renovations.

“It’s definitely helped with foot traffic,” Magee said of the new, more visible location.

Because of its proximity to the library’s front desk, Magee said patrons can pay for books or other materials at the front desk if no Friends volunteers are available.

Magee estimates they have about 50 active volunteers, ages 7 to 90, who assist in the bookstore and at special library events.

“We really couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers,” Magee said. “It’s just a nice way to be engaged with the reading community in the Pointes.”

The Friends had 146 members in their first formal year, in 1948. Today, they number around 350.

“We’re a member-based organization,” Magee said. “A lot of our funding and support comes from our members.”

Members get early access to sales and can attend annual Friends events. Membership is tax deductible.

“All of the dollars raised support library programming,” Magee said.

Within just the last decade, the Friends have given more than $540,000 to the GPPL.

“The Friends have been a wonderful support to the Grosse Pointe Public Library since 1948,” GPPL Director Jessica Keyser said by email. “They sponsor many of our signature programs, including Books on the Lake, Authors to the Pointe, and Summer Reading. Every year, things come up and we know we can call on them for help, whether it be financial support or volunteers, and they always come through for us. We are so grateful for our Friends!”

More than 5,000 books and other items are donated to the Friends each year. While most of these items are sold, some are also distributed to Goodwill, Head Start, The Helm, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Full Circle, senior living centers, juvenile court in Detroit, the Harper Woods Library and local “little libraries.”

Book donors “are very generous, and we have lots of readers, so our storage capacity fills (quickly),” Magee said.

Hence, the monthly bag sales.

Bookstore donations are accepted only during specific time periods: from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Items must be in good condition and cannot be musty or moldy. Acceptable items include music CDs, movie DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, books on CD, trade paperbacks, puzzles, newer video games, cookbooks, and fiction/nonfiction for adults and children. The Friends don’t accept magazines, encyclopedias, textbooks, VHS tapes, vinyl records, pocket paperbacks, Reader’s Digest, books on tape, or Time/Life or Newsweek book sets.

Bookstore visitors will find everything from the latest bestsellers to history to cookbooks, along with picture books and books for children of all ages.

This month, the Friends are marking Christmas in July with a special display at their bookstore featuring books and more with a holiday theme, for anyone who’d like to get an early start on their Christmas shopping.

For more information about the book sales or joining the Friends, visit their website at