Library Receives Big Bucks From the Friends Bookstore

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By: Elizabeth Greenberg | NB Indy

Jan Oates, president of Friends of the Newport Beach Library, presents Mayor Keith Curry with a check for $255,000 during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Friends of the Library presented a $255,000 check to the city.

Mayor Keith Curry accepted the check from Jan Oates, the newly-elected president of the non-profit organization. Library Services Director Cynthia Cowell was also on hand.

“It’s a great thing to be able to thank the Friends for this very, very generous gift and their support,” Cowell said during the presentation.

“That’s a cool quarter of a million bucks,” Cowell said as Oates excitedly waved the check for the audience. “One dollar at a time, I might add.”

The group runs the Friends Bookstore, located in the city’s main branch of the library. Oates called the bookstore Orange County’s “best kept secret.” This hole-in-the-wall store is a sort of recycling station for books.

Selling most books for $1 and best sellers going for just $8, the feat of gaining $255,000 was not easily won.

“It’s a big deal for us because we work so hard,” Oates said. During Tuesday’s meeting she noted that she was presenting the check on behalf of 130 volunteers.

Friends donate to the library every year and this is the biggest amount they have been able to give since the organization’s inception in 1957. Last year they gave about $200,000.

Oates has worked with the organization for six years, including four years as treasurer before being appointed president.

Selling slightly used or new donated books at steeply discounted prices earned the money the group donated. The bookstore has about 7,000 books waiting to be read by eager customers.

Besides being open all week, the Friends Bookstore has quarterly book sales. Held on Fridays and Saturdays, members get to come in to the store on Friday and get first pick. The next day, the store is open to the public and they have a “Buck a Bag” all day sale.

“There are people waiting in line at 8:30 a.m. to get in at 9 a.m.,” Oates said with excitement. “People are running all over, grabbing books off of shelves. Some people get 34 books in a bag. They have it down to a science.”

All of the proceeds and donations earned by the Friends of the Library are donated to the Newport Beach Public Library, and the $255,000 is no exception.

The majority of the money will go towards purchasing eBooks and new releases, as well as children’s and young adult books.

The next quarterly book sale is on August 2 and 3. Residents are encouraged to visit the Friends Bookstore and support the organization that supports their local library.


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