‘Friends’ looking for space

Published 11:35 pm Friday, October 22, 2010

Arranging books: Pat Gammon of the Friends of the Suffolk Library arranges books at the organization’s warehouse on Pinner Street. The organization is seeking new space for its monthly book sale.

The Friends of the Suffolk Library are appealing to the community for help finding a new building and moving there once they find it.

The all-volunteer organization collects donations of used books and sells them at a monthly book sale at its current location, 701 E. Pinner St. Every year, it donates roughly $20,000 to the Suffolk Public Library system to assist with putting on the summer reading program, increasing the audio-book collection and helping with other needs.

The Friends are able to donate so much because they have had a rent-free building. However, it was purchased by the owner of an adjoining business about 18 months ago, and the Friends now are being asked to move.

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“LeOtis Williams is the owner now, and he has been nothing but gracious to us giving us more than a year rent-free since he purchased the property,” Pat Gammon said.

However, the organization now is being asked to move out by Dec. 31 — and take all of their 50,000 books with them.

“We are feeling reasonably panicked,” Gammon said. “We indeed are looking for space.”

The organization has been searching for some time without success, she said. The situation presents a number of challenges — the building has to have plenty of open space and enough parking for the many patrons who frequent the monthly sales. More important, the organization hopes it can find a space that is free or nearly free.

“If we have to pay an enormous amount of rent for a space, we may as well pack it in,” Gammon said.

Even once the group finds a building, moving all the books and shelving presents an additional challenge. The volunteers are looking for boxes, helpers, packing tape and anything else that will help.

“It looks like it’s going to be a difficult proposition,” Gammon said. “We may have to find some sort of storage for a period of time, but we don’t want to have to pay too much for it.”

The situation is getting down to the wire, Gammon said. Any help that can be offered will be appreciated — even if it’s only buying lots of books at the November and December sales.

“We realize that we’ve only got about two months left,” Gammon said. “We’re going to have a sale in November and a big blowout sale in December, then we have to be out on the 31st. We are certainly reducing our inventory as rapidly as we can. We can’t even begin to think about storing that many books.”

The Friends need a minimum of 3,500 square feet in the new building, Gammon said, but preferably more than 5,000 square feet.

Anybody who can help the Friends of the Library out is encouraged to call 539-5335 or 539-2141, or email FriendsOfTheSuffolkLibrary@gmail.com.