By Lisa Capobianco
From teen drama to biographies to children’s series, the Friends of Southington Library Book Store sells a variety of used books to local residents and non-residents of the town.
Located in the basement of Southington Public Library, the bookstore offers high-quality used books, all organized by author and genre. Doris LaRese, the bookstore coordinator, handles the pricing and sorting of books in the maintenance room, where costs range from .50 cents to a few dollars, depending on the condition of the book. Paperbacks cost .50 cents while hardcover books cost $1. Used books in excellent condition may cost a few dollars.
Library Director Sue Smayda is a customer of the bookstore. Smayda said she is proud of everything that this section of the library has to offer for residents and non-residents of the town.
“The books in the store are in top condition and are offered at great prices,” she said. “I visit the store regularly and often buy lots of Christmas presents there.”
Smayda also said the Friends Bookstore plays a major role in the funding of library programs. Last year the nonprofit organization donated $25,000 to library programs that the town did not fund.
The bookstore donated money to library programs including “Transparent Language,” the online program that offers courses in foreign language and “Constant Contact,” the library’s eNewsletter that informs the town on library programs and services. The bookstore also funded Scholar-led Book Discussions and “1,000 Books before Kindergarten,” which is part of the library’s Ready to Read program.
When not donating funds to the library, the bookstore donates all discarded books to the American Legion, and it also spent $10,000 to digitalize all old Southington newspapers and The War Years.
As a resident of Southington for 50 years, LaRese said making an impact on the town brings her joy.
“I think it is important for me to give back to my community,” LaRese said. “I thoroughly enjoy this.”
Established almost 17 years ago, the bookstore began as the traditional “Friends of Southington Library” group, which reorganized in 1988. The group had a book sale once a year, and when volunteers of the group dwindled down, the idea of running a bookstore sprouted among existing members. After the approval from the library board, the Friends Bookstore opened in 1996.
“Since then, it has grown,” LaRese said. “The first year, we gave the board a $5,000 check.”
LaRese had prior experience volunteering for the town prior to her work with the bookstore. She served as president of the PTA at Hatton Elementary School and also as a member of the library board for seven years.
Her first time working with books began when she helped the school catalogue a thousand books in its library. The principal at the time was so impressed with the outcome of the project, that other schools asked LaRese to show them how to catalogue their books too.
“Three other libraries invited me to show their PTA how to do it.”
Today, LaRese cannot resist putting down a book even when she is not at work. Between history and biographies, LaRese said she reads all kinds of books.
“I am an eclectic reader today.” “I cannot go to bed without a book.”
Starting out with about ten volunteers with two on duty every day, the Friends Bookstore has 47 volunteers today, and continues to accept new ones. If anyone is interested in volunteering, applications are always available at the front desk in the bookstore. Anyone interested in donating used books can drop them off in the bin located right outside the bookstore in the basement.
Store hours are:
Monday: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday: 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Thursday: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (except from July to Labor Day)
Photo description: Twin brothers Vinny (left) and Joey Petrossi (right) come to the Friends of Southington Library for the first time, selecting one of their favorite books, “Thomas the Tank Engine.”