When members of the Friends of Socorro Public Library were told they had to vacate the space they were using to sell pre-owned and donated books, they found themselves in quandary. But that quandary was short-lived.
For the last couple of decades, the Friends have run a used bookstore, per se, from a former classroom, and on occasion the adjacent hallway in the Finley Gym building.
They got a notice from the City of Socorro in December that they had to vacate that location because of renovation work on the aging structure.
“For many years, the city graciously allowed us the use of the classroom for our bookstore,” said Julie Johnson, newly elected president of FOL. “We had to be out by December 31.”
She said that’s when Socorro Consolidated School District and Superintendent Ron Hendrix stepped up with a yearly arrangement for the Friends to use space at the vacant Zimmerly Elementary School building.
“They gave us use of a storage room, a sorting room, and the original school library for our book sales,” Johnson said. “It is a beautiful building with high ceilings and lots of room.”
Johnson gave kudos to past president Allan Sauter, who “shouldered the responsibility of moving our huge inventory, bookshelves and tables into the new book room. Joined by other members, he started moving right after Christmas and it took about a week.”
As a result, the Friends were able to hold its monthly book sale at this new location in January.
“With a lot of help, we moved the entire FOL collection to Zimmerly Elementary library in time to meet the city deadline,” Sauter said in a message to group members. “Thanks to all the volunteers who donated their time and effort to move some 20,000 books and over 30 bookshelves. We now have three times the space, and we’re in a much more aesthetically-pleasing environment.”
The Friends are continuing to organize their massive collection in areas designated by genre.
“Some categories are organized by the author while others by classification,” Johnson said. “We also received many donations of old bookshelves from the library and our community, and we always need more.”
She said most of the inventory now resides on these shelves where people can see all the bindings for easy viewing.
Books are acquired from private donations and some from estates.
“Occasionally the library withdraws books from their shelves and donates them to the Friends, but most of our books come from donations and estates. They can’t get rid of those books fast enough,” Johnson said. “When boxes of books come in, we go through and sort them into genres and try to clean them up a little bit. Later those are moved into the book room and then sorted into genres. In alphabetical order or type of book. But we will throw away anything that has mold or the back is broken and pages falling out.”
The plan is to start taking donations on Wednesdays, “when we are cleaning up our book room and weekly sorting.”
The books are generally priced 50 cents for softbound and $1 for hardbound.
The Friends of Socorro Public Library is a non-profit 501c3 organization and, according to Johnson, the book sales serve two purposes in the Socorro community.
“All profits collected by the Friends go to supporting the Socorro Public Library,” she said. “Some of the activities supported by the Friends include children’s programs like Reading Is Fundamental, Summer Reading Program, and the Dolly Parton Library.
The Friends also fund Family Yoga at the Library and community Christmas programs.
The store opens for regular book sales on one Saturday a month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Our next book sale will be February 26,” Johnson said. “The Friends want to welcome the community into our new space. Many in the community look forward to looking through the collection and finding jewels.”
She said a long-term goal is to be open every Saturday, “but that won’t happen for a couple of months or so.”
Other groups currently using space in the Zimmerly building are APAS and the Community Theater.