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March 10, 2010 > Half Pint libraries encourage giving

Half Pint libraries encourage giving

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By courtesy of Rebekah Gannaway

"We want to put books in the hands of kids," says Executive Vice President of Half Price Books, Kathy Doyle Thomas.

It was with that objective in mind, to give donated books to local children, that the Half Pint Libraries program was begun, its name suggested by an employee. Says Thomas, "Our employees and customers love to read and most are avid readers. They had books they didn't know what to do with and asked, "Who do I give them to?"

"As a parent, I try to teach my kids that if people have more than they need, they can share with others. We make it easy to do this," says Thomas, "and local children in Fremont will benefit from this 12th annual Half Pint Library Book Drive."

Two "former hippies," Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson, founded half Price Books in 1972. "Yes, we did have them in Texas," says Thomas. Their philosophy was, "We make enough so other people deserve a good standard of living. As for books, they should have more than one reader, more than one home."

The message of philanthropy stretches beyond promoting literacy, to include an environmental "green message," long before it was popular - one of reusing and recycling books to others. Founder Anderson had said, "If we can't sell it, we want to give it away. Books should fill our lives, not our land."

Through March 31, customers are encouraged to drop off gently used or new children's books at Half Price Books where the employees will sort through to make sure they are in good condition, before donating to the appropriate local organizations.

Half Price Books, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is the largest family-owned chain of new and used bookstores in the United States with 108 stores in 16 states and still expanding.

The company is partnering with the East Bay Children's Book Project to help distribute the books to various local nonprofit groups and organizations. "We are a volunteer-staffed nonprofit organization and have been in existence for over five years. Our focus is giving books to any professionals or agencies who works with kids in need," says Executive Director and volunteer, Ann Katz.

According to Katz they regularly receive multiple thousands of books themselves each year from Half Price Books, but this is the first time they will be working together to coordinate such a large scale community giveaway.

If you are a registered 501-C3 nonprofit agency and would like to receive some of these books, go online and fill out the form at Bring the completed form to the Book Giveaway/Community event at the F.M. Smith Recreation Center, 1969 Park Blvd. in Oakland on Saturday, April 24, from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Thomas emphasizes that these donated books are not for resale. "We want kids to have the books or community organizations to use them to create or add to their own children's libraries."

In many cases, this might be the first book a child has ever received. Of more importance, reading is a stepping-stone to academic success at school and for the future.

"Unfortunately, when money is tight, buying books can't always be a priority for families struggling to make ends meet," says Thomas. "Half Price Books feels that every child deserves a book of their own and is hosting this drive to benefit local children who may not otherwise have access to books."

Last year's Half Pint Book Drive garnered over 5,000 books which were collected and distributed in the Bay Area, ranging from books for tots through teenagers, storybooks to young adult novels. The hope is to exceed that amount this year.

Drop-off for books through March 31:
Half Pint Libraries Book Drive
Half Price Books
Pacific Commons
43473 Boscell Rd., Fremont
(510) 744-0333

Book giveaway and Community Event
Half Price Books with East Bay Children's Book Project
F.M. Smith Recreation Center
1969 Park Blvd., Oakland
Saturday, April 24
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
(510) 433-0412

Nonprofit agencies can register to receive books by completing the form found online at and bringing it to the event. The community is encouraged to attend the event.

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