Hidden Gem: Tuscaloosa's Friends of the Library Bookstore Offers Deep Discounts for Bookworms

Rochelle Richardson works in the Friends of the Library Bookstore on March 14. Rochelle Richardson works in the Friends of the Library Bookstore on March 14. Vince Bellofatto

In the past two years, The Friends of the Library has contributed more than $88,000 to the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Operated by a volunteer staff that only accepts cash or checks, The Friends of the Library store remains a bookworm’s dream.

“The dedicated volunteers who run the bookstore help to promote the library in the community and within local organizations,” said Vince Bellofatto, the library’s director of public relations and marketing. “The FOL bookstore is a draw for the Main library. Customers who visit the bookstore also take a trip to the library to check out materials. This is just a wonderful partnership.”

For those who’ve never discovered Tuscaloosa Public Library’s little gem, the Friends of the Library store resides in the TPL’s main branch library building off of Jack Warner Parkway. It offers a wide selection of new and used books, music and movies for only 50 cents, $1, $2 and $3.

“I found a nice treasure last week in the form of ‘Commonwealth’ by Ann Patchett on the shelf,” Bellofatto said. “That made my day.”

The store, which depends on donations from the community, is the main sponsor for the TPL summer reading program. The money from the store goes to purchasing books, materials and performers for TPL, said Bess Miller, president of the board of Friends of the Library.

“We provide extra needed support that the library needs. We give them a big donation every year that helps buy books, and helps with the summer reading program, where they have thousands of children every year,” she said. “We support the staff as well. We hold a brunch a couple of times in the year to show how much we appreciate them, and we remember them on their birthdays.”

The store is open any time the library is open, with the exception of Sunday afternoons. Customers from all over the country come to visit the store, Miller said.  

“I ran into a man who said he’d been a customer for years, and said his mother from Denver who passed away would always visit with an extra suitcase and fill them up with the bookstore’s books and take them back to Denver,” Miller said. 

The store, which serves as additional funding for the library, accepts cash and checks, Miller said. 

Donations are always appreciated, as it gives purpose to the volunteer staff, who operate the store’s day-to-day. Three shifts of volunteers help to run the check-out counter and shelve books daily.  

The store is the perfect haven for book lovers, Miller said. Those who need to clear some room on their bookshelves but can’t stand the thought of giving their books away can find solace in donating their books to the store.

“I feel like the bookstore serves a triple purpose. Our main purpose is to give back to the library. The store also encourages reading,” Miller said. “The third thing is that it enables people who maybe can’t go to Barnes and Noble to come into the book store and buy our new hardbacks. They’re three dollars and are new books you would have seen within the last 6 months.”  

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Tori Linville

A graduate of The University of Alabama, Tori is a professional in the publishing industry and brings strong writing and editing skills while contributing creative ideas, contemporary concepts, and editorial experience to her varied projects.

Website: www.linkedin.com/in/avlinville

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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