By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Declining book donations and the lure of a spacious competitor across town slashed profits this year at the Lee County Library book shop.
Because the shop funnels money into the library – purchasing between new books and materials for patrons monthly – the situation presents a challenge for the cash-strapped entity.
Lee County Library, like all Mississippi public libraries, has suffered massive state budget cuts and must increasingly rely on outside support to make ends meet.
“We used to make $1,200 a month,” said Dalton Anthony, president of the Friends of the Lee County Library, which runs the book shop. “Now more like $500 to $600.”
That money goes directly into new purchases – mostly children’s books – as well as equipment and other materials, like books on CD.
On Monday, Mem Leake perched inside the little glass room that houses the book shop, tucked in the corner of the library’s first floor. He works two hours per day and said maybe a half dozen patrons wander in.
“We just need to make more people aware that we’re here,” he said. “People come in (the library), and very rarely do their eyes ever come over this way.”
In addition to its nearly hidden location, the book shop faces competition – both in patrons and donations – from the new Goodwill Book Store on McCullough Boulevard.
Open since January 2010, the spacious used book store stacks shelf upon shelf of gently used merchandise at rock-bottom prices.
Carr said he shops both the Goodwill and the library, dropping in at both locations once or twice weekly. But he said he prefers spending his money with the library because it goes toward a local mission.
Actually, said Alexis Horton, the Goodwill Book Store’s manager, profits raised through her store stay within north Mississippi to fund the agency’s mission: Providing jobs for people who need them, but especially the disadvantaged and disabled.
Horton declined to say how many books the Goodwill receives or sells annually; Anthony said the library used to sell about 15,000 books a year. It now sells about 7,000.
“There are books staked in homes across north Mississippi that people kick aside or move over every month,” Anthony said. “People need to bring them into the library.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.