On the lower floor of the Monroe County Public Library, almost hidden behind the music and video department, is a small bookshop with a big mission. The Friends of the Library Bookstore has been selling donated books to benefit the library for four years, first on moveable shelves that appeared in the lower lobby every Tuesday, then in the shop open three days a week. Prices generally range from 25¢ to $2.50.

With an ever-changing, random stock from which to choose, shopping at the bookstore is always an adventure. Devoted customers stop in often, hoping to find a treasure among the thousands of items that pass through. Cassette tapes, vinyl, and movies on VHS are among the most sought-after items, particularly because they are no longer carried by the library.

The shop is managed by book expert Faye Mark. With 11 years as book buyer and manager of the IU Bookstore, six years as curator and researcher at the IU Archives, and five years as research assistant to James Capshew for his upcoming biography of Herman B Wells, it is not surprising she got the job.

In 2009 the shop reached a dream goal—grossing more than $100,000. “That’s a lot of twenty-five-cent magazines and one-dollar and two-dollar books,” says Mark. The money goes toward staff development and community programming, including the popular lecture series The Power of Words that has featured, among others, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg and the novelist Luis Urrea.

The shop accepts hardbacks, paperbacks, textbooks, magazines, and music and films on all formats. “It’s a constant struggle to make sure we have enough books,” says Mark. “People think we don’t want academic books, but we have a huge demand for history, literature, philosophy, and religion. We also need science books, particularly chemistry, physics, and biology books less than ten years old. And don’t be embarrassed to bring in those old videotapes.” The shop also accepts art, posters, and needlework if framed.

Donating is easy; drop your contributions anytime the library is open. You can even arrange home pickup. For more information call 349-3050.

The shop is open Tuesdays 9 am to 7 pm, Thursdays noon to 7 pm, and Saturdays noon to 5 pm.