Friends of the Library local bookstore gives back to community

Rachel Seale, Contributing Writer

Located on the side of the Tuscaloosa Public Library, the Friends of the Library Bookstore houses a variety of donated books for sale at affordable prices. The bookstore’s mission is to provide extra morale and monetary support for the Tuscaloosa Public Library. 

The Friends of the Library organization serves the community of Tuscaloosa by raising money for the public library, encouraging literacy and enabling people to buy used books for much less than their retail cost. 

Customers can buy books for less than $5. Bestseller books are $4, hardbacks are $3, large paperbacks are $2, small paperbacks are $1 and children’s books are 50 cents. 

TPL Deputy Director Amy Patton said the Friends of the Library bookstore raised about $90,000 last year. All of the proceeds from the store go directly to the Tuscaloosa Public Library, which became a fine-free library this past year, meaning there are no fees for returning books late. 

The store is also a great source for used textbooks and test-prep books for college students in town. Patton said students are always in awe of the economical prices. 

“I like to think of the Friends of the Library bookstore as a hidden gem in Tuscaloosa,” Patton said. 

What once began as two trailers in the library’s parking lot has grown to an actual storefront where shoppers can sit and read on donated church pews. 

The store is run by volunteers, like the Friends of the Library board president Bess Miller, who said she wants to raise awareness about the bookstore.

“I’m amazed at how many people who live in Tuscaloosa don’t know the store exists,” Miller said. 

The store doesn’t just serve Tuscaloosa, but it also provides books to libraries in rural areas. Miller said the volunteers strive to be good citizens to smaller libraries.

She said if they happen to receive several copies of one book, the store donates some of them to other libraries, as well as to Tuscaloosa’s local jail. 

Miller said the bookstore is a good resource for teachers, as well as families who homeschool. She wanted to remind college students to utilize the store as much as possible. 

“When you get ready to move out or graduate, bring your books to us,” Miller said.

Cole Pittman, a sophomore majoring in political science, said he learned about the store from a friend who worked at the library. He said he has purchased books for much cheaper than usual, like a copy of Where the Crawdads Sing” for $2, which generally retails for about $20. 

“If you’re looking for a good local bookstore, I would definitely recommend going there,” Pittman said. 

The bookstore accepts cash and checks as the only forms of payment; however, there is an ATM at the bank across the street that customers can use to get cash. 

The store is closed Sunday, Monday and whenever the public library is closed, including closures due to severe weather. 

For more information, such as the store’s address, hours and volunteer information, visit the TPL’s website

Donations can be made by visiting the store or by dropping books off in the bins located directly outside of the store.