With a little help from friends: Library group contributes to local reading collection

Published 12:07 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

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By Christian Simmons 

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — Books are expensive. 

So much in fact that it leaves the reading-deprived masses to steer away from bookstores and toward the ever-rising prices of bills and food costs.

This leaves many books to join others in a massive landfill instead of in the hands of readers where they belong.

Clemmons Public Library’s volunteer organization, Friends of the Library, saw this tragedy unfold and came up with a solution.

The Friends of the Library organization for Clemmons started back in October 1985. Exactly two years before Clemmons even became a municipality.

Since its inception, the Friends of the Library has received volunteers of like-minded goals.

One such person, Mike Combest, who is one of the volunteers at the local library volunteer group called Friends of the Library, is making sure no one in his community goes without books to read.

The Friends of the Library organization is responsible for making the books that are donated to them available to their community.

“Through our book sales, we sell the books that are generously donated to us at bargain basement prices and 100 percent of the proceeds is given back to the library to fund programs such as the Youth Literacy programs and others not funded by the county’s budget,” Combest said.

The primary goal for the Friends of the Library organization is to increase patronage to the library as well as making various genres of books available to whoever wants to read them.

“We even have events in place for those who cannot afford a book to receive one,” Combest said.

With already such a large amount of donations, some of the other volunteers like Pat Ingle, Decca Slaughter and Kay Hutchens, address the challenge they now face, being finding proper shelving to put all the donations.

“The people have been so generous giving us their books, that we now have to make sure they have enough space for our books,” Combest said.

In speaking about donations, a lot of the donated books came from the community’s citizens like Michelle Barson who recently donated more than 40 books covering three generations.

“Once I discovered the Friends of the Library organization and found out that they feel the same way I do about books being in the hands of readers and not filling up some landfill, I felt like I had to donate to them,” Barson said. “My mother started our book collection by handing down to us her books. I continued to add to the collection with my share of books, and now my two nine-year-old sons, Beckett and Fielding, have joined in with books they no longer read.”

Donators like Barson have been contributing to the Friends of the Library organization rather than seeing their books go to waste.

“When I learned about the Friends of the Library organization,” Barson said. “I knew exactly where I wanted all our books to go. I didn’t want to have them sitting and rotting in some landfill, I wanted them to be as special to someone else as they were to me.”

And, as it turns out, many of the other citizens of Clemmons feel the same way. As more and more books come their way.

Looking into the future, Combest, along with the other volunteers at the Friends of the Library organization see themselves increasing in the amount of volunteers ready to serve in the cause of making sure everyone can relax with a good book to read.

“With the increasing donation of books here at the Friends of the Library, we’re going to need more help making these books available to our community,” Combest said.

Book donations, book sales, and funding for the library’s programs not covered by the county’s budget, is just one way this community is lending its hand to making their lives a little more literal.

Anyone who is curious about the Friends of the Library organization, or interested in donating to help them out, contact them on their page at the Forsyth County Library’s website.