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Little Book Store Open In New, Larger Location Within Booth Library



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For nearly 50 years, patrons of C.H. Booth Library have been invited to not only borrow items from the library’s vast inventory, they have also been able to purchase gently-used books, games, puzzles, note cards, and more.

Thanks to an idea that began as a one-day book sale to raise funds for the library, C.H Booth Library and its patrons now benefit from year-round fundraising efforts by the Friends of The C.H. Booth Library.

The Friends is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing financial and material support to Newtown’s public library, “enriching the intellectual and cultural life of the greater community,” according to its website.

Among the Friends’s ongoing efforts is The Little Book Store — Newtown’s only book store, Friends Communications Director Nancy Dvorin proudly noted during a recent interview — which moved in early April into a new, larger room within Booth Library. Until late March the store was located among shelves to the west of the main circulation desk.

The store is now in a room on the main floor that formerly housed some books, primarily audiobooks, on the northern side of the building. Access is from one of the reading rooms just off the main lobby, and also through a door just east of the main circulation desk.

The store is fully organized by the Friends, all volunteers, who are not part of the paid library staff.

The move means The Little Book Store has more room for offerings, and its location is clearly defined.

“There is no more confusion over where the library’s loan items end and the book store begins,” Dvorin said. “There’s no more questions of ‘Can I buy this?’”

The Little Book Store sells new and very gently used items. The new space allows for an average 3,000 books at any time.

Little Book Store Manager Marge Gingolaski said many items are gift quality.

“They are rarely noted as ‘as is,’” she said.

Prices, said Dvorin, “are extremely discounted.”

Gingolaski said research goes into pricing every item.

“We look everything up,” she said. “We scan every book, and then we decide what to sell it for. Prices are not from the top of our head.”

“We try to keep items low to make things sell, but we also want to make this worthwhile,” she said.

The new location has allowed volunteers to add a few new categories, further breaking down children’s and young adult categories by reading levels.

“We’re trying to follow library practices with our classifications,” Gingolaski explained. Adult non-fiction has been broken into more categories, and education is now filed under non-fiction, she said.

Not all categories have changed.

Cathie Mapen, another Little Book Store volunteer, said, “We still have the usual categories people look for. We even have our catchall category, This & That.”

Ahead of holidays, volunteers make sure the store is stocked with the seasonal offerings.

Volunteer Karen Mackenzie said themes are noted as donations arrive. Ahead of Mother’s Day earlier this month, themed books and gifts had been grouped together, making it easy for shoppers to find something for that holiday.

“When we have books come in, and we scan them, we often put thing aside, so we have a supply ahead of each holiday,” she said. “We’ll be ready for Father’s Day next month.”

Shoppers never know what surprises await them, however. In late April, The Little Book Store was offering porcelain Lenox birds. Each had its own original box, and each was being offered for $10.

Profitable Enterprise

Whether a sale is for one book, note card, or decorative item, or several items, The Little Book Store is definitely a worthwhile enterprise. The store raises an average of $1,000 a month, according to Dvorin.

“That money is rolled into the annual grant the Friends make to the library for materials, programming, and other items like online subscriptions,” Dvorin said.

Gingolaski said the Friends will even donate brand-new books to the library.

“When new books come in” as donations, she said, “we will often offer them to the library, which again saves C.H. Booth Library money. When it’s time to retire those books, we can sell them, which raises more money.”

The Friends also fund many of the public programs hosted by the library.

Booth Library Director Douglas Lord said the funding is critical to the library.

“We’d have to go to the town for some of the things the Friends cover,” he said. “They do not cover personnel, or bricks and mortar concerns, and that’s fine.”

The library building, he said, “is a Town-owned building, so the Friends do not want anything to do with buying light bulbs and things like that. We’d have to go to the Town if we didn’t have this money from the Friends, so the Friends are saving the town money.”

Lord noted the Friends of Booth Library are “the fourth or fifth highest earning Friends group in the state.”

Even during the height of the pandemic, the Friends set up thematic pop-up sales so that those visiting the library could feel just a small sense of consistency while the library continued to benefit from the fundraising efforts.

“The Little Book Store is a key and consistent part of the Friends’ fundraising efforts on behalf of the Booth Library,” Dvorin said. “It was the Friends’s main source of fundraising in 2020 when the COVID lockdown and public health restrictions forced cancellation of the Friends’s annual July and Holiday sales.

“During that period, the library generously donated additional space for pop-up sales under the aegis of the Little Book Store. That permitted the Friends to expand its offerings at a time when its abilities to raise funds were constrained.”

Small Fundraiser, Big Returns

The Little Book Store grew out of a small fundraiser launched in 1975.

Former Friends President Kay Kiernan Brix told The Newtown Bee three years ago that Book Sale Founder Joanne Zang was a patron of C.H. Booth Library when she was inspired to help raise funds for the public library. She decided to set up a card table in front of the library on Main Street during the Labor Day Parade in 1975 and sold the library’s discarded items for 25 cents each. By the end of the day, she had reportedly raised $35.

That sale soon expanded to a tent behind the library and later relocated to the former Bridgeport Hall (now Newtown Municipal Center) in Fairfield Hills, before moving to the air-conditioned Reed Intermediate School roughly a decade ago. Last year’s five-day sale reportedly offered more than 130,000 items.

The Little Book Store grew out of the annual book sale, in that it continues the sale of new and gently-used books in many of the same categories found at the annual summer event, on a year-round basis. The Friends also present a Holiday Book & Gift Sale in December.

Volunteers replenish the Little Book Store stock on a regular basis.

“They’re in there all the time,” Lord said.

“It’s like a garden, or a happy hive — they’re always in there, always adding and moving items,” Dvorin said of the volunteers.

Within that garden of books and gift items, one special item will never be sold. Approximately 25 years ago, when the book sale efforts were referred to as The Book Nook, the daughter of Book Sale Founder Joanne Zang painted a sign for the Friends.

That original sign has been carefully placed atop two bookcases, honoring the store’s roots.

The Little Book Store, within C.H. Booth Library, can be visited any time the library is open: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am-8 pm; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 am-5 pm; and Sunday, 12-5 pm.

A secure payment box is located within the store, where cash and checks can be deposited. Credit/debit cards can also be used; instructions are on-site.

All are welcome to visit The Little Book Store. Library cards and Newtown residency are not needed.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

C.H. Booth Library Director Douglas Lord is joined by members of the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library in the new dedicated space for The Little Book Store. With Lord, continuing right, is volunteer Cathie Mapen, Friends of Booth Library Communications Chair Nancy Dvorin, volunteer Karen Mackenzie, and Little Book Store Manager Marge Gingolaski. —Bee Photos, Hicks
The original sign for The Book Nook — the original name for The Little Book Store — holds a place of honor within the store’s new permanent location.
The move by The Little Book Store allowed volunteers to update many of the store’s subcategories. Children’s and young adult books are now categorized by reading levels, following current library guidelines.
Access to The Little Book Store is through a marked doorway east of the main circulation desk, shown here, and through a reading room near the library’s main entrance.
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