Fair Haven's 'mystery books' substitute for closed library

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 3:32 PM EDT
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Because of the coronavirus crisis, many libraries in Vermont have been closed for up to two-months and others are offering curb side pickup. A library in Rutland County is even taking it a step further.

At the Fair Haven Free Library, staff and volunteers are in a wrap session. The library is closed to the public, but a group of staff and volunteers is busy in the basement wrapping presents. They aren't getting ready for Christmas, but a daily giveaway of used books.

"Everybody is really enjoying it and that's what it's all about," said Teri Demasi, one of the volunteers.

They would normally sell the books at their annual book sale, but the giveaway was Demasi's brainchild. She says people were missing not having access to library books during the early days of the shutdown, so she came up with this plan. Readers only know the category of book -- it's written on the spine. Like a good present, it's a surprise, giving new meaning to 'mystery book.'

The grab-and-Go bookshelf started in early April and so far they've given away 2,400 books. They're dropped off at a nearby Shaws supermarket and almost everyday when Demasi gets there, the shelves are picked clean.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What was your reaction when you saw that first empty bookshelf?

Teri Demasi: I was really shocked because I thought it would be something that would be utilized, but I didn't think it would be as popular or utilized as fast.

Carol Scott, the head librarian, believes the books are being read, which is gratifying because the closing of the library has been especially difficult. "Oh yeah, you know all the people that come in... it's very hard," She said. The giveaway is a way to stay connected.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Are you a good wrapper?

Carol Scott: No, but I try hard. But I'm not really good at it!

Teri Demasi: I have found we can wrap about 30 an hour -- one person.

With the current batch completed, Demasi is off to the supermarket to stack, helping old books find new life "Happiness is a full bookcase," she said.

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