For nearly 50 years, patrons of the CH Booth Library have been invited to not only borrow items from the library’s extensive inventory, but have also been able to purchase books, games, puzzles, note cards and more. Again.
Thanks to an idea that began as a one-day book sale to raise funds for the library, CH Booth Library and its patrons now benefit from year-round fundraising efforts by the Friends of the CH Booth library.
The Friends is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing financial and material support to the Newtown Public Library, “enriching the intellectual and cultural life of the greater community,” according to its website.
Among Friends’ ongoing efforts is The Little Book Store – Newtown’s only bookstore, Nancy Dvorin, Friends communications director proudly noted in a recent interview – which moved to a new, more great within the Booth library. Until the end of March, the store was located among the shelves to the west of the main loan office.
The store is now in a downstairs room that once housed books, mostly audiobooks, on the north side of the building. Access is from one of the reading rooms just off the main hall, and also through a door just east of the main circulation desk.
The store is run entirely by Friends, all volunteers, who are not paid library staff.
The move means The Little Book Store has more room for deals and its location is clearly defined.
“There’s no more confusion about where library loan items end and bookstore begins,” Dvorin said. “There are no more questions of ‘Can I buy this?'”
La Petite Librairie sells new and very lightly used items. The new space allows an average of 3,000 books at any one time.
Little Book Store manager Marge Gingolaski said many of the items are gift-grade.
“They are rarely rated as ‘as is,'” she said.
Prices, Dvorin said, “are extremely discounted.”
Gingolaski said the research focused on the pricing of each item.
“We watch everything,” she said. “We scan each book, then we decide what to sell it for. Prices are not off the top of our head.
“We try to keep items low so things sell, but we also want it to be worth it,” she said.
The new location allowed volunteers to add a few new categories, further breaking down the children’s and young adult categories by reading levels.
“We try to follow library practices with our classifications,” Gingolaski explained. Adult non-fiction has been split into several categories, and education is now categorized under non-fiction, she said.
Not all categories have changed.
Cathie Mapen, another Little Book Store volunteer, said: “We still have the usual categories that people are looking for. We even have our catch-all category, This & That.
Before the holidays, volunteers make sure the store is stocked with seasonal offers.
Volunteer Karen Mackenzie said themes are noted as donations come in. Ahead of Mother’s Day earlier this month, themed books and gifts had been grouped together, making it easy for shoppers to find something for the holiday.
“When we get books and scan them, we often put things aside, so we have a supply before every holiday,” she said. “We’ll be ready for Father’s Day next month.”
However, buyers never know what surprises await them. At the end of April, The Little Book Store offered porcelain Lenox birds. Each had its own original box, and each was offered for $10.
Whether it’s a sale for a book, note card, or decorative item, or multiple items, The Little Book Store is definitely a worthwhile business. The store raises an average of $1,000 per month, according to Dvorin.
“This money is built into the annual grant that Friends gives to the library for materials, programming and other things like online subscriptions,” Dvorin said.
Gingolaski said the Friends will even donate new books to the library.
“When new books come in” as donations, she says, “we often donate them to the library, again saving the CH Booth Library money. When it’s time to retire these books, we can sell them, which will bring in more money.
The Friends also fund many public programs hosted by the library.
Booth Library director Douglas Lord said funding was essential for the library.
“We had to go to town for some of the stuff Friends covers,” he said. “They don’t cover personnel or bricks-and-mortar issues, and that’s fine.”
The library building, he said, “is a city-owned building, so Friends don’t want anything to do with buying light bulbs and things like that. We’d have to go to town if we didn’t have that Friends money, so Friends are saving town money.
Lord noted that the Friends of Booth library is “the fourth or fifth highest earning friend group in the state”.
Even at the height of the pandemic, Friends set up themed pop-up sales so library visitors could feel a little sense of consistency while the library continued to benefit from fundraising efforts.
“The Little Book Store is a key and consistent part of Friends’ fundraising efforts on behalf of the Booth Library,” Dvorin said. “It was Friends’ main source of fundraising in 2020 when the COVID lockdown and public health restrictions forced the cancellation of Friends’ annual July and holiday sales.
“During this period, the library generously provided additional space for pop-up sales under the Little Book Store umbrella. This allowed the Friends to expand their offerings at a time when their ability to raise funds was limited.
Small Fundraiser, Big Returns
The Little Book Store was born out of a small fundraiser started in 1975.
Former Friends president Kay Kiernan Brix told The Newtown Bee three years ago that book sale founder Joanne Zang was a patron of the CH Booth Library when she was inspired to help raise funds for the public library. She decided to set up a card table in front of the library on Main Street during the 1975 Labor Day Parade and sold the discarded items from the library for 25 cents each. At the end of the day, she would have raised $35.
This sale quickly expanded to a tent behind the library and later moved to the former Bridgeport Hall (now Newtown Municipal Center) in Fairfield Hills, before moving to the air-conditioned Reed Intermediate School there. about a decade. Last year’s five-day sale reportedly offered more than 130,000 items.
The Little Book Store grew out of the annual book sale, in that it continues the sale of new and lightly used books in many of the same categories found at the annual summer event, throughout the year. ‘year. The Friends also presents a holiday book and gift sale in December.
Volunteers regularly replenish the stock of the Petite Librairie.
“They’re there all the time,” Lord said.
“It’s like a happy garden or beehive – they’re always there, always adding and moving things around,” Dvorin said of the volunteers.
In this garden of books and gift items, a special item will never be sold. About 25 years ago, when book sale efforts were called The Book Nook, the daughter of Book Sale founder Joanne Zang painted a sign for Friends.
This quirky sign has been carefully placed atop two bookcases, honoring the store’s roots.
The Little Book Store, within the CH Booth Library, can be visited any time the library is open: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
A secure payment box is located within the store, where cash and checks can be deposited. Credit/debit cards can also be used; instructions are on site.
All are invited to visit the small bookstore. Library cards and Newtown residence are not required.
Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at [email protected]
CH Booth Library Director Douglas Lord is joined by members of Friends of the CH Booth Library in the new dedicated space at The Little Book Store. Along with Lord, who continues on the right, volunteer Cathie Mapen, Friends of Booth Library communications chair Nancy Dvorin, volunteer Karen Mackenzie and Little Book Store manager Marge Gingolaski. —Pictures of Bees, Hicks
The original sign of The Book Nook – the original name of The Little Book Store – takes pride of place in the store’s new permanent location.
The move of The Little Book Store allowed volunteers to update many of the store’s sub-categories. Books for children and young adults are now categorized by reading level, following current library guidelines.
Access to The Little Book Store is through a marked door to the east of the main lending office, shown here, and through a reading room near the library’s main entrance.