ST. PETE — Having a bookstore inside of a library may seem strange, but in St. Pete, it’s been a fairytale partnership for the past 15 years. Now the library says they don’t know what they’d do without the store.
For years when you walked into the West Community Library on the SPC Gibbs Campus, the first thing you saw was the book store, then the pandemic hit and they had to close.
Herb Polson has been volunteering at the Friends of the Library Bookstore since it opened in 2006.
“My wife came home from work and said, ‘how was your first day of retirement?’ I said, ‘I got a job,’ I said, ‘I start next week at the book store,’ and I have been here ever since,” said Polson.
The library donates the space, the public donates the materials and the volunteers donate their time, which means every penny they make can go right back into the library.
“They would fund public programs and I loved that because not many places have funding for public programming,” said librarian Sandra Gordon.
Gordon said everywhere you look, the friend’s generosity is evident, from furniture to TV screens, to artwork.
“It’s the best thing they can do for their community and we do appreciate them,” said Gordon.
So far the bookstore has raised more than $75,000. One of their biggest contributions has been their teen room.
However, like a villain out of a horror story, the pandemic left the book store for dead, closed for more than a year.
“They’ve been asking staff, ‘when are we going to open, when are we going to open,’” said Polson.
Making a comeback has been tough, they are down several volunteers, currently, only open three days a week.
“We need to recruit more people so we can get back up to six days a week so we’re open when the library is open,” said Polson.
As for now, Gordon is just glad the bookstore is back. She says every public library needs friends like these.
“Having a friends group is the way to go especially for public libraries because a lot of them just don’t have money for funding,” said Gordon.