‘Hidden treasure’: Shelton library starts daily book sales

Kirsten Liggins of Plumb Memorial Library and Friends of the Shelton Libraries President Susan Constantino in front of the area designated for the daily book sale at Plumb Memorial Library in Shelton.

Kirsten Liggins of Plumb Memorial Library and Friends of the Shelton Libraries President Susan Constantino in front of the area designated for the daily book sale at Plumb Memorial Library in Shelton.

Brian Gioiele / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — What started as a small way to clear out a storage area has become a book buying treasure.

Plumb Memorial Library — which prior to the pandemic held two large book sales each year — is now holding one every day in the newly updated large reading room. Three large sections of shelving are filled with books donated for the sale that never happened in 2020.

“People can now come every single day,” said Kirsten Liggins, the library system’s circulation and business librarian who originated this novel idea. “Instead of twice a year, people can come every single day.”

Liggins called the library Shelton’s hidden book store.

“It’s a real treasure here at Plumb,” she said.

The sale is sponsored by the Friends of the Shelton Libraries, which before the pandemic collected and sorted the book donations and organized the sales. The book sales typically generate about $10,000 annually to cover costs such as programming and purchases of new materials, including furniture and electronics.

The Friends — now under the leadership of new president and lifelong library patron Susan Constantino — still oversee this operation. While donations have not been accepted for nearly two years now, Constantino said the Friends’ ranks continue to grow, and membership dues also aid the library.

“We need our libraries,” Constantino said. “We’re not just a place to take out books. It’s a hub for the community, a connection for everyone, especially during COVID.”

Library Director Joan Stokes said the pandemic, which brought library services to a halt in March 2020, canceled the sales the past two years. But the books donated for the 2020 sales remained in storage.

“The lack of a book sale and the renovations were a perfect marriage,” Stokes said. “This was a chance to move out the donated books while showing off the renovations here at Plumb.”

Liggins said she first started this daily book sale in small cases at the entrance to the main level. During the renovations — which have occurred throughout the building since 2019 — Stokes said staff also culled old books and consolidated, creating more shelving space in the large reading room, and the large daily sale was born.

“This has just grown into this,” Liggins said.

For library staff, this is just the latest way to reach the public when the pandemic has limited its ability to offer programs that had been staples in a time before social distancing and mask-wearing.

The children’s department also offers a youth book sale, only on a smaller scale in the department, which was completely renovated only weeks before COVID overtook the area.

Children’s Librarian Maura Gualtiere said to increase interest among families, she has started family night movie bundles (two library movies, candy, popcorn, with check out for seven days); launch pads, which are pre-loaded tablets with STEM activities for grades K to 6; animal explorer backpacks; book bundles; and reading systems, which children receive for 21 days that include educational DVDs, flash cards and books to help parents teach a child how to read.

“We’re evolving. We’re trying to make accommodations because of the pandemic,” Gualtiere said. “We may look different than the past but we’re still just as vibrant as before.”

Liggins said the library’s doors were always open.

“Just like lighthouses, in tough times we are your guiding light, keeping you safe,” she said. “We’re a place to go with free resources for everyone. We’re still here and ready to take everyone in.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com