Friends of the Library continues to lure readers |

Friends of the Library continues to lure readers

Jeff Munson / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” In a digital age where some wonder whether the literary printed word is at risk of losing future readers to the Internet, fear was no where to be found among the dozens who showed up to the Friends of the Library book sale in South Lake Tahoe on Saturday.

Book buyers and browsers turned out for the first of three book sales offered by the Friends group, which will celebrate its 50th year in August. At least two-thirds of the books on sale were sold, reports Diana Hamilton, Friends of the Library book sale chairwoman.

“It was a great day for the library,” she said.

All money from the sales go directly to the library to support its many functions, including its coveted children’s reading program, she said.

In a city where citizens are often divided, one thing is abundantly clear at the South Shore: People of all ages, stripes and persuasions are unified over support of the Lake Tahoe Branch of El Dorado County Library. Where other communities have cut tax support for their libraries, South Lake Tahoe taxpayers overwhelmingly approved a $16 a year parcel tax in 2005 to continue its services.

And demand has never been more apparent than in the past year, said Library Branch Manager Sally Neitling.

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The library is seeing between 300 to 600 people a day coming through its doors, a circulation increase of about 25 percent, she said.

The reasons for the jump are many: There’s unemployed looking to brush up on study manuals; there are people who have cut off their cable television to save money and are picking up DVDs, and there are people who are, simply, reading more books, Neitling said.

The Friends of the Library is the one organization that helps keep programs running at the South Lake Tahoe branch, including several popular reading programs for children. In fact, most of the money raised Saturday will go straight into the reading programs, Hamilton said.

Book sale browsers said they wouldn’t miss the opportunity to get books at bargain basement prices and help out a worthy cause.

Melisa and Steve Richardson of South Lake Tahoe donated four bags of books and in turn bought at least two bags of books.

Asked if he thought the printed literary word was going by the wayside to the Internet, Steve Richardson said “absolutely not.”

“There’s something about the book, just holding it in the hands, feeling the pages as they turn; books will never go out of style,” he said.

His wife, Melisa, agreed, explaining how the couple will buy several paperbacks during long trips overseas, and then leave the books for others to read in hotel rooms or cafes.

“Paperbacks are good for that. You’ve read them and you can leave them for others to read and it doesn’t cost you a lot of money,” she said.

Nancy Enterline, El Dorado County’s District 5 Library Commissioner, agreed.

“Who ever heard of curling up with a laptop?” she said.

According to Friends of the Library Membership Chairwoman Kay Henderson, there are 70 active Friends of the Library members.

Candace Kelly, president of Friends of the Library, says she reads every day, including newspapers. She said she’s worried about the book and newspaper industries and hopes people of all ages will continue to value reading the printed word for generations to come.

“I think we have to educate the younger students who are growing up with the Internet and tell them that there are things in books they cannot get on the Internet. Books and newspapers matter and are very important,” Kelly said.

Twenty-three-year-old Jessica Pheiff of South Lake Tahoe couldn’t agree more with Kelly.

New generations of readers should be using both equally, Pheiff said, adding that she saw a report recently by the BBC that suggested that in 100 years handwriting may have to be translated.

“Is print dying? In a way it is,” she said. “But there is something to be said about escaping into a world where writers, genius writers, pour their hearts into stories. We must continue to read books because they really do have something to teach.”