Generosity benefits community: Southland donates huge number of books to benefit Blount library
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Maryville bookstore owner with a generous heart and a like-minded nonprofit in this community have teamed up on a project that should leave Blount County readers with plenty to smile about.
Lisa Misosky, owner of Southland Books in Maryville, just donated between 4,000 to 6,000 books to the Blount County Friends of the Library, who will then turn around and offer them at rock-bottom prices to the rest of us.
The Friends will host their first book sale of the year — Jan. 17-19 — in the lower level of the Blount County Public Library. Paperbacks will be let go for only a $1 and hardbacks, only $2.50. Every penny made at that sale will go toward programs at the library.
This weekend Misosky, along with Jerry Wagner, president of the Friends, and several Friends volunteers like board member Larry Moore, Larry Ackley, Phil Baker, Carole Trammell, Suzanne Moore, Bob Harris, Tim Osborne, Charles Butera and Phyllis Williams met at Southland’s second location, at the intersection of U.S. 411 South and William Blount Drive.
That satellite book store location had been open for almost a year, but Misosky made the decision to close it at the end of 2012. She took some of the books back to the Southland location on East Broadway to sell there and then gave thousands of others to the Friends. She even helped pack and transport them.
Here’s your prize
Misosky said she originally contacted friends Wayne and Barbara Zurl about the books she wanted to donate. The Zurls are longtime supporters of the library. “I contacted them and said ‘Have I got a great deal for you guys,’” Misosky said.
It took three vehicles to transport the bags and boxes of books to the lower level of the library, where they are being sorted and shelved for the upcoming sale. Tuesday is work day and several volunteers will be there to make sure everything is ready. Wagner said there are already 50,000 books on the shelves, ready for patrons who know a good bargain when they see one. The Friends have been having these quarterly book sales for more than 15 years and they have grown in popularity.
Mary Cormia is a former member of the Friends board of directors and has been volunteering for many years. She said in addition to the newly donated books from Southland, the library itself has gone through its young adult section and given some of the collection for the sale. Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning also held a book drive before it closed and gave all it collected to the cause. That one and the collection from Southland are some of the largest donations to Friends, she said.
The way the sale operates is impressive. The lower level of the library has several bookshelves lined up, with books categorized by genre and alphabetized by author, making it easy to find what you’re looking for. Plenty of volunteers are on hand during the sale to help and answer questions.
Wagner said each book that comes in is dated, so his group knows how long they have sat on the shelves. Those that have been around a while are sometimes discounted, packaged with other books or placed in the free section.
There are children’s books, which are half the cost of adult books. There are travel guides, cookbooks, history books, mysteries, books from Oprah’s Book Club, language books, collector favorites, science fiction and the list goes on. Wagner said there is a bin at the library where folks can conveniently donate books they no longer want. “Every morning that thing is full of books,” he said.
Misosky said she is glad she had the perfect place to donate her leftover books and knows they will be used for a good cause. She has been in the bookstore business for more than 20 years and is always buying books from estate sales. When she pulls out ones she can’t use, she tracks down someone who can. She’s donated to local schools and other causes to the tune of about 1,000 books every year.
Finding them a home
There are also customers at Southland who bring in books that Misosky can’t take in. “We always tell people to donate to the library when they bring in stuff we can’t use,” she said.
That huge collection from Misosky that now belongs to the Friends has some great reads, she said. There are classics, national book award winners, fiction and history. Definitely worth a trip to the library during the sale.
This bookstore owner who grew up in Blount County and graduated from Maryville High School, said as a community member she is always looking for ways to give back. This is an easy one, she said.
Bob Ramger, a former board member and now volunteer with the Friends, was on hand Wednesday morning at the library to help get things organized for the sale. It’s a lot of work to process so many books, but no one here was complaining.
“We can always use more books,” Ramger said.