Check This Out

Local Friends of the Library turn a problem into a page-turner

Elisa Devera browses the possibilities at the new Friends of the Library Bookstore.

This has been a year of challenges and adaptive thinking across the board, including for the nonprofit Friends of the Henderson County Public Library. With the library system only recently — and still only partially — emerging from pandemic closures, support from the Friends is even more crucial; but faced with the loss of some $100,000 in financial support from the organization’s two annual book sales, canceled because of the ongoing health crisis, the Friends have instead opened a bookstore, a first in the group’s 64-year history. Jan Aplin, a longtime Friends volunteer, is serving as the store’s manager. 

“We’re very excited about the new store,” Jan says. “We had a limited opening starting on October 13th, and we’ve seen a steady stream of customers ever since.”

The bookstore is a bold move for the Friends, more so because it’s not intended as a temporary replacement for the book sales. “This is a permanent move for us,” says Friends President Suzie Manning. “We may have periodic sales, but only as inventory mandates it.” The bookstore, located in the same building on Spartanburg Highway in Hendersonville where the book sales were held, is now open to the public three days a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Members of the Friends get a ten-percent discount, and nonmembers can join the Friends right in the store.

The books on sale have either been donated or have been decommissioned from the library system, with subjects in all genres and all in excellent condition. “Fiction and mystery are what I’ve been told by our shelving personnel are the most popular genres,” Suzie says. “They range in price from two dollars to five dollars, unless it’s a special book like a reference book or a rare edition.” Books are regularly restocked during the week, along with the CDs and DVDs the store also sells. Donations are welcome during store hours.

The money raised by the previous sales and, now, through the bookstore, is used to buy supplies, equipment, and new books for the library system, as well as providing support for the many programs offered county-wide. As COVID restrictions keep many people at home for longer periods, the availability of inexpensive reading material is a welcome resource.

As with any business, anti-transmission precautions are in effect at the store. Masks must be worn and social distancing observed. On busy days, visits are limited to 30 minutes per customer.

With the exception of the store’s manager, the Friends of the Henderson County Library is an all-volunteer organization and help is always needed, especially now with the store as a permanent fixture of the group’s fundraising efforts. “It’s a great way to interact with people who love reading,” says the Friends’ publicity chair Richard Labunski, “and who recognize the importance of a vibrant, up-to-date library system to the community.”

The Friends of the Henderson County Public Library Bookstore, 1940 Spartanburg Hwy., is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from noon-4pm. To learn about volunteering, email bookstore@fotl.info or visit the Friends website at fotl.info.

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