Friday, May 20 2022

The quaint Friends of the El Cajon Library Book Shoppe inside the downtown branch of the San Diego County Library is about to get a little more spacious.

The cozy store tucked inside the lobby has grown too big for its cramped digs that feature several dozen shelves with books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs of every genre imaginable.

Open for almost 30 years, the Shoppe offers people from all walks of life the opportunity to enrich their lives by reading without having to empty their pockets. Old or new, from biographies to mysteries, softcover books are only 50 cents, hard covers $ 1. Some children’s books can be purchased for as little as 25 cents.

The store is also a hit with some knowledgeable library regulars – kids who know how to ask volunteers if they’d like to get a candy out of their chests.

Plans for the store at 201 E. Douglas Ave., which is operated by the Friends of the El Cajon Library, run by volunteers, will grow from 293 to 476 square feet in 2020.

Friends of the El Cajon Library chairperson Connie Smith said the county approved the group’s request to tear down the wall separating the front conference room from the library and turn it into part of the library.

The expansion will help the store’s bottom line, which in turn will be a financial boon for the library.

The store is the main source of funds for the library, which is used to pay for some of its community programs. Programs range from crafts to English and computer classes for immigrants, from afternoon movies to yoga sessions for the elderly. The El Cajon Library hosts an annual dance for LGBTQ teens and has hosted live concerts with musical talents such as Peter Sprague.

Smith said that in September and October, the El Cajon Library sponsored 134 programs and attracted more than 3,300 people. One of the events during this time was a “very successful street store” in which people from the community were invited to the library to donate and pick up clothes, no questions asked.

“People really appreciate the programs that we put in place,” Smith said. “There are so many… Librarians are very creative when clients recommend something to them. They do research and ask us if we think this is something we can do. We meet with them every year and tell them to tell us what they need. And we never refuse them. The El Cajon library is essential to the community. We provide activities and other things that improve and improve people’s lives.

Migell Acosta, director of the San Diego County Library, said the cost of the construction will be around $ 60,000 and will be paid for with money spent on the county reserve. Acosta said almost all of the 33 branch libraries have an inside store selling books and related items.

As she prepared to pay volunteer Barbara Tharp for a stack of books she was purchasing, regular visitor Brenda Roach from unincorporated El Cajon said she looked forward to more space to browse.

“Love this place,” she said, while stopping to browse the 2020 calendars and greeting cards which can also be found inside the store. There are also audiobooks and puzzles for sale.

” I love him too much. It’s dangerous for my wallet! I never got out of here for just $ 6 … but I’m not done yet.

Smith said the group of friends were grateful for the support from Acosta and the county library staff. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has also long been an advocate for volunteers.

“The Friends of the El Cajon Library, like Friends groups from other county branches, play a huge role in the life of the library,” said Jacob. “I am very grateful for the hard work of the group and its dedicated volunteers. Anything we can do to support their fundraising efforts is good for the library and good for the community.

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