Friends of the Greenbelt Library
Inside the Greenbelt Library is a bookstore operated by the Friends of the Greenbelt Library. Who are the Friends and what do they do? On a recent Friday afternoon, I met up with Marsha Voigt, treasurer of the Friends of the Greenbelt Library, to find out more about the group.
The bookstore is on the first floor of the library, next to the children’s area.
Adult hardbacks and trade paperbacks are $1 each. Pocket paperbacks are 50 cents each or 3 for $1. Magazines are 10 cents each, and DVDs $4.
Marsha Voigt was the president of the Friends of the Greenbelt Library for a number of years and is now its treasurer. She comes into the bookstore every Friday and the first thing she does is to tidy things up.
Voigt holds a Wine Spectator magazine by the magazine rack.
People donate books to the library at the front desk. The librarians collect them and put them on a cart in the back room for the Friends. Here Voigt receives a cart full of new donations from the past few days.
There are books, VHS tapes, and even an activity kit titled “Lots of Ideas for Making Your Own Friendship Bracelets.”
Voigt pushes the new donation cart to the bookstore through the children’s reading area.
She goes through the new donations and first picks up some recent Better Homes and Gardens magazines.
The magazines go on the magazine rack.
Then children’s books.
Voigt leaves the new cart in the bookstore and takes the cart that has been there for a while downstairs.
In the basement is a book storage room.
Many more donated books are stored in this room. Here Voigt tells me that the books in these boxes by the door will not be sold.
These are books like “Washington State University College of Business & Economics Alumni Directory 2001” and “Frommer’s Europe From $50 A Day 1997.”
The books are organized in several categories such as romance, nonfiction etc.
There are several boxes of LPs (long-playing records) which Voigt says do not sell well.
Robert Frost reads his poetry
There are audio cassettes but Voigt says that very few people are interested in them now.
They also receive puzzles from time to time.
Coffee table books
“From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By” by Robin Roberts of ABC TV’s Good Morning America
There is a large cookbook collection. Voigt points to some Christmas themed books and says that they will be moved to the bookstore soon as the Christmas season approaches.
Voigt puts away the books she brought down from the store.
She locks the door.
Voigt tells me that this meeting room in the basement was the bookstore. It used to be open only in the evenings and a member of the Friends was staffed here. Now, with the store on the first floor, it is open whenever the library is open and people just need to pay the librarians at the front desk.
Voigt signs the volunteer time sheet.
Marsha Voigt tells me that there are six of them in the Friends of the Greenbelt Library (FOGL). Joyce Griffin is the president and she is the treasurer. Then there are Judy Bell, Suzy Marley, Shirley Middleton, and Barbara Rondeau. From Monday to Saturday, every day one of the six will be here to work in the bookstore and deal with new donations. They used to have book sales in the large meeting room in the basement but have not had it for a while because it is a labor intensive process.
She tells that the Friends receives 40 percent of the sales money while the library system 60 percent. Last month as treasurer she received a check for about $200 (she thinks it is on the low end) which means the total sales were $500. The Friends uses the money to supplement library operations. For example, they pay for the library’s summer reading program which includes visits by magicians and Reptile World, and they buy the food for the annual Teddy bear picnic and ice cream social. Last summer, the Friends paid $2,700. They also purchased things like TV, recording equipment, and digital camera for the library and contributed to the renovation of the staff lounge.
As far as the history of the Friends is concerned, Voigt says that she has been a volunteer for at least 15 years, and Barbara Simon and Eileen Peterson started before she did. Peterson was the president before she became president, and several years ago, she passed on the position to Joyce Griffin. Simon is the current president of the Friends of the Prince George’s County Libraries.
What do the volunteers get out of the work? “We all love books,” Voigt answers. They get the first pick on the new books and once a year, they go out for a meal together.