Always A Bestseller!
by Ken Tipper
A group of eight members of the Friends of the Ocala Public Library gathered in June 2003, at a dusty warehouse on 36th Avenue, to formulate their ideas for a book store to be located in the new library on Silver Springs Boulevard.
With Library Director Julie Sieg and her staff providing professional guidance, the group went to work on the layout, which included a children’s corner, with adjacent shelves for children’s books. Months of sorting had resulted in the very best books being ready for stocking, and the store was ready when the library opened to the public in August, 2004.
The response was an immediate success, and from the outset the legions of Marion County booklovers showed their gratitude by pouring in book donations on a daily basis.
Friends member and former President Barbara West was one of the original planning group. She was selected as book store manager by unanimous consent of the FOL board of directors. To this day, Barbara is proud of the group of volunteers she gathered together. Barbara has stepped back from the daily management of the book store, but still gives a day of her time every week.
“They came in all shapes and sizes, left brains, right brains, retired teachers, school administrators, librarians, corporate executives, business owners, college professors, secretaries, and, best of all, Moms (who never retire),” she recalled.
Barbara is particularly proud of volunteer Martha DeLong, who has been there from the beginning, and who remembers the hard work involved in getting the store up and running. At the other end of the time-served scale is retired Navy veteran James Conrad, a regular library patron, who stopped in the store one day about two months ago and signed up. “I used to buy books here, and now I’m selling them,” he said.
After only a few months, it became obvious that the store was receiving more donations from the reading public than there was room to accomodate them. And so the Quarterly Book Sale was born, also an immediate success, with lines of patrons waiting for opening time on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
Another facet of the book store operation is on-line sales of some of the more valuable or unusual books, conducted by Friends Historian Sallie Collins, who has added to the fundraising effort by e-Bay sales of books such as a set of International Music Books, an autographed book by Jimmy Stewart, a collection of Bruce Springsteen magazines, and a collection of Frank Lloyd Wright newsletters.
Pat Anderson, current store administrator and longtime board member, spends countless hours ensuring that everything runs smoothly in the store.
Friends President Marilyn Stadick sums up the bookstore operation thus: “Our book store proceeds allow the Friends to fund many programs and needs that the library’s budget does not provide. Our goal is to attract people who share our love of books, and whose purchases in the store allow us to do that.”