BENSON — If you love books, take a look at the great deals Friends of the Benson Library is offering.

After COVID caused Friends to close its bookstore and gift shop for about 14 weeks, this popular community stopping place reopened on June 1, but with limited hours.

“We’re typically open five days a week, but due to COVID-19, we’ve cut our hours back and are only open three days, at least for now,” said Kay Edwards, one of the Friends volunteers. As an avid reader, Edwards started volunteering for the Friends organization not long after moving to Benson three years ago.

“I’m a big supporter of the Benson Public Library and its educational programs,” she said. “I also support the Friends organization because our bookstore provides reading materials of every sort, games, puzzles and children’s books at very low costs. Families with children benefit from the books and educational items in our bookstore at affordable prices.”

Along with her passion for reading, Edwards has been a public school teacher for 58 years and currently substitutes for St. David Unified School District.

“I love kids of all ages and enjoy substitute teaching for the St. David district,” she said. “It’s a wonderful district, one of the most outstanding small rural school districts in the state,” added Edwards who uses her substitute teaching position as a platform to encourage young people to read.

In addition to its support of the Benson library, one of the organization’s biggest contributions is a scholarship program for students who are enrolled in Benson or St. David high schools, as well as local home-schooled students, said Verla Herbett, another Friends volunteer.

“We award five $2,000 scholarships every year with money we receive through the bookstore and fundraisers. We also offer renewable scholarships that are awarded to students who maintain a certain grade point average,” Herbett said.

Friends also has five “little libraries” scattered in convenient locations throughout Benson, and one little library in Pomerene. These tiny libraries invite people to take books for their reading enjoyment and donate books for others to enjoy.

“So Friends provides a lot of reading-related services for the community,” Herbett said. “We support the Benson library by purchasing items on the library’s wish list, things like equipment, computers and chairs.”

As a nonprofit, Friends survives on donations and community support, Herbett said.

“For great deals on books and other supplies, stop by the bookstore and see the huge selection we have to offer. We have hardcover books for $1 and paperback are 50 cents.”

Right now, the deals are even better.

“The bookstore is selling regular books, audio books, magazines and music CDs at half price through July, said Lori Mitchell, who serves as the organization’s secretary.

“People who come through here are happy that we’ve reopened,” Mitchell said. “We’re seeing a lot of our regulars along with some first-time visitors. I’ve been a volunteer for about six years, and as a book-lover, this is a perfect volunteer job for me.”

Mitchell reminds visitors that the bookstore is practicing social distancing.

“We urge everyone to take the extra precautions to stay safe and healthy.”

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