Since 2013 a treasure trove of used literature has sat in a small room beneath the Charles Stone Memorial Library. It was affectionately dubbed The Next Chapter Book Shop, but far too seldom has it been discovered by area book lovers.
Just over a year ago, a group of library volunteers undertook the task of getting the word out and making sure book enthusiasts know of the small shop’s existence.
The project has been organized by Debbie Ervin, an admitted book lover who volunteers at the library while also serving on its board.
She was approached by Branch Librarian Anna Nichols and asked about undertaking an effort to find the necessary volunteers to allow the shop to maintain consistent hours.
When considering the task, Ervin was at first taken aback by the challenge it presented. But slowly, a plan began to form.
“The volunteers just weren’t there,” she recalled, “and it needed signs and regular hours. I went on Facebook and asked for volunteers. Eventually, we were able to open half days throughout the week. And when we found a good deal on some signs, it started coming together.”
The key to moving the project forward was a core group of volunteers. That group consists of Jesse Travis, Ann Collins, Fiona Ochse, Deborah McClerin, Leslie Lubeck, Doug Brannon and Ervin. Neva Hunt and Shelia Lambert serve as alternate volunteers.
“But we could still use more volunteers,” Ervin noted. “We don’t have the alternates we need to allow us to maintain all hours when someone is ill or traveling.”
As staffing allows, the shop operates on a set schedule of noon-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Open signs are placed at the front, side and back of the library during these hours. The book shop can be easily accessed from the library’s lower parking lot and is identified by a sign over its door.
“We’re a small used book store,” Ervin described, “with great prices and a nice, homey atmosphere. Our volunteers are willing to help find a selection or to suggest something. It’s a great place to come to get a collection together or just to have a relaxed conversation. And it’s another resource to help our library with funding.”
“A lot of our elderly residents enjoy coming in and talking books before they buy books,” she continued. “We have audio books, DVDs and puzzles. And we love to see kids. We have a lot of children’s things including a free book bin for them. We’re about good books and good conversation.”
While book donations are gladly accepted, volunteers expect that the shop will never face a shortage of literature. One challenge remaining is publicizing the shop, enticing new local and visiting book lovers to come in and see the wealth of materials available,
“I’m always surprised,” Ervin said, “when people who have been coming to the library for years tell me they didn’t know we had a book store. And we regularly have people come in and tell us they didn’t know we were here.”
Additional information on The Next Chapter Book Shop can be found on the shop’s Facebook page. The page can be easily located by a Facebook search for “The Next Chapter Book Shop Pilot Mountain.”