The last book store in Saline County
December 16-22, 2019
By Cody Berry
After the local Hastings closed its doors in 2016, there weren’t many places left for avid readers to go book shopping in Saline County. For a short time there was only the book section at Wal-Mart, or Target, and locally owned treasure troves like Books and Baubles in Benton’s Commercial Historic District, which also closed. Luckily, the Saline County Library was ready and willing to step-in and fill the void, with a little help from their Friends.
On July 12, 2017, a group of dedicated patrons gathered at the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton to form a nonprofit called the Friends of the Library. They decided to hold used book sales there to generate much needed funds for the Saline County Library and its activities. On Aug. 7, 2017, the Saline Courier reported that the Friends of the Library planned to hold their first used book sale that Thursday and Friday at the Benton branch. The Library staff set aside a room downstairs full of donated and out-of-circulation materials for members of the Friends and other volunteers to sort through and sell.
The Friends found success with their used book sales. Eventually they were able to buy a 3D printer for both branches of the Saline County Library. On Feb. 15, 2019, the Saline Courier announced that the Friends of the Library Used Book Store was opening for business downstairs at the library’s main branch in Benton. The Book Store opened on Feb. 19, 2019. Other than donations, thousands of books are pulled from the library’s two branches every year for sale at the Book Store.
Volunteers help sort new items and keep the shelves stocked so they are never empty. Patrons who come to the Book Store will find a lot more than copies of their favorite John Grisham or Stephen King novel. There are board games, video games, CDs, DVDs, cake pans, and a large non-fiction collection to boot. Damaged or outdated materials such as reference books, VHS tapes, magazines, vinyl records, cassettes, and computer manuals are not accepted but donations are always welcome at either branch of the Saline County Library.
The Book Store is now open to all whenever the library is open. Patrons need only make their selections and bring them upstairs to the front desk. Coffee table books range from $2 to $15 while most hardbacks, paperbacks, children’s books, CDs, DVDs, cake pans and audiobooks cost between fifty cents and a dollar each. Just this summer, the Friends of the Library’s quarterly newsletter reported that monthly book sales averaged over $1,000.
Since Nov. 15, 2019, the Friends of the Library have been selling Book Store gift certificates that come with a corresponding amount of “Book Bucks,” which can be exchanged for anything in the Book Store at the Benton location or from the Used Book Store table in Bryant. Gift certificates can be purchased in any amount from the circulation desk at either branch. They make excellent gifts for any book lover and help support the Saline County Library at the same time.
The Friends of the Library meet once a year to set new goals and to celebrate those already achieved. There are no membership fees for those looking to join. Just complete a form at the circulation desk at either the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton or the Mabel Boswell Memorial Library in Bryant. The Friends of the Library hold training sessions for volunteers in their Book Store. The next meeting is scheduled for some time in January 2020.
For anyone interested in volunteering or joining the Friends of the Saline County Library visit ttps://www.salinecountylibrary.org/about/friends or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: www.salinecountylibrary.org, Saline Courier, Alissa Turner, Jordan Reynolds, Brad Crumby, and Kari Beesley of the Saline County Library staff. And Kathy Lewallen, President, Friends of the Library.
The Book Store is open to all whenever the library is open. Patrons need only make their selections and bring them upstairs to the front desk. (Photo by Cody Berry)