The little book store ... that's hiding in plain sight
The sign for the Chapters book store is fairly large and prominently displayed directly above a window to the modest-sized space.
When Crook County Library patrons first walk through the front door of the building and into the lobby, chances are they see it, perhaps in the periphery as they veer left to the library itself. Yet it seems that people still fail to realize the store is there.
"I have been working in here for maybe a dozen years or more and always, every few months or so, someone will come in and say, 'I didn't know this was here,'" said Susan Swan, coordinator of the Chapters book shop. "And they say, 'I come to the library all the time.'"
Swan says that the space Chapters occupies, a small room sandwiched between the Juniper and Broughton rooms of the Crook County Library, has had various lives since the building was built in 1999. But for the past 10 years or more, it has been the home of Chapters.
The shop is operated by the Friend of the Crook County Library, an organization that as its name suggests, supports the local library and its endeavors. Members of the group, Swan among them, volunteer to operate the shop.
All of the books sold in the shop are donated to the organization. They are priced depending on their condition, but all are sold for $3 or less.
"I sort through the books and make certain decisions about which books should go in the shop, because we get a lot of donations," Swan said. "I deal with the kids books and put them out. There are some classics and some old editions of books."
Some of the offerings occupy carts in the lobby just outside the Chapters door. On one shelf are science fiction and fantasy books, and on another are young adult titles and series books, which Swan says have been a popular item. Another half-price rack is reserved for books that have not sold as quickly and other books are designated for the monthly book sales the Friends of the Library hosts every third Saturday in the Broughton Room.
If the books in too rough of shape, they are placed on a free rack for people to take.
"We accommodate everything," Swan remarked.
Books aren't the only items sold at Chapters. Young patrons can find an assortment of inexpensive toys, some donated and others purchased.
Every penny raised by Chapters goes to the Friends of the Library, and by extension, to the Crook County Library. Swan explains that whenever the library director has a request during a Friends meeting, they apply the money raised toward that project.
Swan has a few theories on why the bookstore goes unnoticed. She points out that the hours are somewhat brief. Though they are open six days a week (closed on Sunday) they are only open for three hours per day. Wednesdays and Thursday, the shop opens at 10 a.m., on Tuesday it opens at 10:30 a.m., Mondays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. and at noon on Friday.
"I think when we are open, we are more visible because we have our carts in the hall and our open sign," she said, "but it's amazing to me how people can walk by it and not ever see it."
But Chapters does get its share of customers. Swan says that a typical day will bring in a few customers – and they definitely have some regulars.
"Our best customers are grandparents," she said, adding that young families will spend time at the shop as well. "That's always lots of fun. The kids sit down on the floor and read the books and the parents shop."
The Friends of the Crook County Library is always looking for more volunteers to run the shop and, of course, they are always looking for more patrons.
"Come in and check us out," Swan says. "It's a great place to shop."
Chapters book store
Location: Inside Crook County Library building
Hours: Monday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.