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Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library to open store at Rotterdam’s Viaport

Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library to open store at Rotterdam’s Viaport

"A Second Look" finds a home in former GNC store
Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library to open store at Rotterdam’s Viaport
Volunteer Marcine Wielt, left, and Assistant Manager Robin Eddy sorting books for the shelves.
Photographer: Marc SCHULTZ/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

ROTTERDAM — Need a Doris Kearns Goodwin 2005 hardcover edition of "Team of Rivals," for only $5?

The Friends of the Schenectady County Public Library have your back. There will be two of them for sale Tuesday when "A Second Look" opens up at the Viaport Mall in what had been home to the GNC store. It's the second store for the Friends group, which opened the Whitney Book Corner in downtown Schenectady near the central library 18 years ago.

"We needed more space because the Whitney is bulging at the seams with books," said Charlene Roman, a vice president of the Friends group and manager at the Whitney. "There's no place close enough downtown where we could push our carts to, so we've been trying to find a new spot since last July," Roman said. "We had looked at another place in the mall, but then they came back to us and said they had another place to show us. The first place was a clothing store. This place already had shelves so it's a lot less work we have to do to prepare."

More from this week: Our top stories Feb. 9-15, 2019

A Second Look, which will have an official grand opening Feb. 21 from noon to 1 p.m., will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will be entirely staffed by volunteers from the Friends group, and is the first book store at Viaport since Waldenbook's closed in 2002.

"We have 900 members, but when it comes to active volunteers we have a lot less," said Roman. "But we think this new location will draw some new members from this part of the county. People in Rotterdam, Princetown and Duanesburg might not know that much about the Whitney, but we're hoping this new store will create a whole new pool of volunteers for us."

The books sold at the Whitney are from the county library. Most of them were donated to the library by the public, about 80 percent, and the rest are library discards.

"Not a day goes by where we don't have boxes and boxes of books on our loading dock," said Karen Bradley, executive director of the Schenectady County Public Library. "People are cleaning out their houses, or they get a book as a gift and then they give it to us. Those go to the Whitney, and then we have discards, books that are damaged or outdated that also go to the Whitney."

Bradley, who has been at the library for 19 years, can't imagine life without the Friends group.

"I can't say enough about what they do for us," said Bradley. "The membership and our volunteers seem to grow every year. All of our programming for adults and children is paid for by the Friends. They are the most amazing group of volunteers. They are here to provide services to the county library system, and they do a great job."

Madelyn Thorne has been involved with the Friends group for a while and became president last year.

"Our mandate is to enhance what the library can offer to the community," she said. "We're all volunteers, and our goal is to proactively and creatively provide more access to books and programming throughout our library system. The great thing about opening a store in Viaport in Rotterdam is that people from a whole different part of the county will have better access to extremely affordable and good, quality books. And then all the money we raise from selling books we put right back into the community."

The Friends group is renting the space in the mall for a very reasonable price, according to Thorne.

"I think it's great that Viaport is opening up some spaces for non-profit groups," she said. "This worked out really well for us, and this location came with shelves. We were able to walk right in and start stacking books. So we're very excited to have a presence here because [we] know people in Rotterdam, Princetown and Duanesburg, who maybe haven't heard about us, will be interested in buying great books at affordable prices, but also become a member and a volunteer."

According to Roman, there will be a few differences between A Second Look and the Whitney.

"We're in a mall, so the prices might be a little bit higher than at the Whitney," said Roman. "And it's not like we can put some books on a cart and wheel them from the library to the Whitney. We have to transport them over here by car, so the costs of the books will go up a bit."

Still, a hardcover like "Team of Rivals" for only $5 is a great deal. But don't wait too long.

"Yeah, I think we only have two of them so they might not be here for long," said Roman.

More from this week: Our top stories Feb. 9-15, 2019

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