One summer day, several years ago, I was really early for an appointment with my dentist (Eric Lim at Glenlake Dental, in the interest of Hugging the Bear). So I went into the old library and saw that there was a Used Book Store.
Used book stores are about my favorite thing on Planet Earth. Up there with puppies, chocolate and the Internet. I went in and spent money, then saw they were looking for volunteers. I could have a three hour shift, once a week. I could sit and read books and talk to people about books and sell books and call it volunteering.
How fast do you think I signed up?
In the beginning, my favorite thing was opening a box of new donations. It was like Christmas morning, the surprise and delight of what I might find. First dibs on buying them was pretty fun, too. Reviewing and pricing donations meant that I was also listing books for sale on the Amazon.com storefront. So my next favorite thing was when a book I listed on Amazon had sold.
Then, we moved to the new building. If you haven’t been there, the Irene Overman Kreer Used Book Store has a dedicated room off the main hallway and it is fabulous. Donations are up, sales are up, and interest in our cause is higher than it has been in as long as I can remember. All proceeds go to Friends of the Glenview Library. From the website:
“The Friends of the Glenview Library is organized exclusively for the charitable, educational, and continuing development of the Glenview Public Library. Proceeds generated by the Friends ongoing fund raising efforts are used to purchase important items not possible in the Library's regular operating budget, as well as to support special projects.”
The great thing about volunteering here is that there is something for everyone that loves books. Some volunteers like researching the rare finds among the donations. (I don’t have the patience.) Some like to organize the titles. Or argue in which section a book should really be shelved. (I might sometimes do that.) My new favorite thing? When someone buys a book that I have already read and I know that it is great and can tell them so.
The Used Book Store is open during regular library hours. I certainly hope you will visit. If you are interested in volunteering, you can find the application and contact information here.
Seems like only yesterday we were in our shirtsleeves tossing burgers and brats on the grill. Oh, that’s right, we WERE grilling in November. But now it’s December, and the holidays are rapidly approaching…
On the first day of Christmas (or Hanukkah) -- buy yourself a book! It will get you into the holiday spirit.
On the second day of Christmas – buy your sister (or brother) a book.
On the third day of Christmas – come back to the bookstore – you’ll find something, for someone.
We love books. And we believe there is a book for everyone. Actually, we believe there are many books for every person we know.
When we think of the holidays, or birthdays, or Ground Hog’s day, or the Equinox – we think of books.
Books for every occasion!
At the Irene Overman Kreer Used Book Store, we have:
•Coffee table books
•History and politics
And this month, all holiday books are ½ off!
Last year we placed our holiday books on a cart near the checkout desk. Not this year. This year we needed more space – so we placed them in aisle 4B.
Many of the books we receive from our generous donors appear to be new. They make great gifts. Others (gently used or deeply loved) are perfect for stocking stuffers or gifts-for-no-reason.
For the serious readers on your list - biographies, history, politics, and essays – to name a few.
For left-brained artistic types – art, architecture, photography, and more.
Entrepreneurial spirits will love the business books.
DIY’ers are always looking for new projects, and we’ve got shelves of home improvement and craft books.
And who can resist a good mystery?
One more thing… We are selling a number of toys, games, and puzzles from Youth Services. We’ve placed them on the carts outside our front door – many of them are $1.00! But you better hurry --- they’re selling fast.
We received a call in the Used Book Store the other day – the caller wanted to know about our pricing.
We get that question a lot.
As any and all book lovers know, bookstores, in general, are a vanishing breed (dare I say dying, or on life support?). First it was the independent bookstores being pushed out by big box stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble (remember You’ve Got Mail?). But, as it turns out, we couldn’t sustain two competing big-box stores either, so Borders closed.
Technology is to blame. But we’ll leave the technology pro/con discussion for a future post.
Back to our caller…
As it turns out, this caller was establishing a library in a new housing development. He didn’t have a large budget, so he was looking for the most cost-effective way of filling some empty shelves. We can only assume he’d called around to some of the few remaining independent used bookstores before reaching us and asking:
"How much are your books, and how do you price them?"
Most brick and mortar bookstores, even the used bookstores, own or pay rent for their physical locations. They also pay employee salaries and provide them with benefits. These costs are passed on to book lovers in the form of higher prices.
The Irene Overman Kreer Used Book Store is maintained by the Friends of the Glenview Library, an organization established for "the charitable, educational, and continuing development of the Glenview Public Library. Proceeds generated by the Friends’ ongoing fundraising efforts are used to purchase important items not possible in the Library's regular operating budget, as well as to support special projects."
The Used Book Store doesn’t have employees; it is staffed by a team of over 60 dedicated, book-loving volunteers. And our generous supporters donate all of the books and materials. This allows us to offer our books at lower prices.
We use Amazon and Ebay to identify market prices for all of the donated merchandise and believe that with this information in hand we are able to price our merchandise at slightly lower prices than would be listed for the same item, in the same condition, elsewhere – in-store or on-line. In this way, we can offer our patrons the best possible prices while fulfilling our mission of supporting the library.
•Crash won the Oscar for Best Picture
•The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl
•The Chicago Cubs did not win the World Series (or even make it to the playoffs.)
It’s OK if you don’t remember - nobody remembers these things. People get excited in the weeks leading up to the playoffs and the award ceremonies; they spend a couple of weeks anxiously cheering for their favorites, then all is forgotten (except for the Cubs thing – we’ve been mourning that one for over 100 years).
But something else occurred 10 years ago that we haven’t forgotten. Ten years ago one of Glenview’s very own got it in her head the Glenview Public Library needed a used book store.
If you remember, ten years ago we were still in the old library building…
Who in their right mind would consider trying to open a used book store in that old building?
The first problem was space - most people would have assumed there was no space for such a thing in the old library. But Irene Kreer is not most people.
Irene pitched the idea for a used book store to Vickie Novak (our Library Director) and the two of them walked through the old library. They found a little unused space on the mezzanine level. It was an odd space – so odd the library staff hadn’t found a use for it in 50 years. But Irene saw the potential and her enthusiasm was contagious.
The second challenge was set-up costs. Ten years ago (as today) the library operated on a slim budget. There were no additional funds, not even modest funds to help launch a used book store. Even a book store which would ultimately benefit the library by generating additional funds.
Again, Irene was not deterred. And now she had an accomplice…
Irene and Vickie make a good team. Vickie went into research mode and soon found some free shelving. Irene rounded up some volunteers to pick up the shelving and install it in the little nook in the library.
Word of the new experiment spread. Used books were donated and volunteers appeared out of nowhere. The used book store officially opened on July 17, 2006.
Fast forward to today…
The used book store now occupies the southwest corner of the new library building. Irene continues to manage the book store and coordinate over 60 volunteers who keep the book store open during all regular library hours.
In April of this year, the Glenview Library Board of Trustees honored Irene for her 50+ years of service to the library. During the celebration ceremony they gave Irene the ultimate tribute – they renamed the book store after her.
Please visit us in the Irene Overman Kreer Used Book Store – our inventory is constantly changing due to the donations of our generous neighbors.