By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — Their mission is literacy. They fund it through book sales.
The nonprofit group called Friends of the Mill Creek Library wants people to read, especially children.
The group spends more than 70 percent of its annual $11,000 budget on library programs for children and teens.
These include story times for young children, summer reading program prizes, monthly crafts, entertainment and storytelling, summer concerts for families in the library’s park, Friday night games and pizza for older kids, along with a books-and-brunch event for teens.
The group also supports book discussion groups for adults and gives grant money to teachers who need help to pay for professional development in literacy education.
One of the smaller libraries in the Sno-Isle library system, Mill Creek is the third busiest, with more than 6,000 visitors a week.
“Because the library is small and parking is minimal, it’s hard to add more programs. Children’s story time is scheduled before the library opens,” said Friends treasurer Carol Spate. “We would like to add book talks by authors, for example. We struggle with the limitations, but we pride ourselves on accomplishing as much as possible.”
Friends has about 30 members, 10 of whom are active on a regularly basis, Spate said.
However, it takes nearly 50 volunteers to help put on the Friends’ annual book sale, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, outdoors at the library. United Way teen volunteers, Boy Scouts and others prepare tables stacked with books for the 400 or so people who are expected to browse and shop at the sale.
Friends also sells books each day in the library’s foyer, a venture that brings in hundreds of dollars a month.
“We couldn’t do it without the people who donate the books,” said Friends member Judith Brownell. “We are very particular about we sell, but we are happy to give all the donations a new life.”
None of the books donated to Friends of the Mill Creek Library ever goes to a garbage dump, Spate said.
The books that don’t sell are given to the Snohomish County Jail, the state’s Monroe Correctional Complex, the Denney Juvenile Justice Center, the Mill Creek food bank, the YWCA and the Silver Lake Kiwanis, which then distributes books to foster children.
The library staff is supportive of the book sales, Spate said. In addition, Clock Tower Storage in Mill Creek donates a storage unit for books to be sold in the annual sale.
More than any other motive, the Friends of the Mill Creek Library members are concerned about their community, Brownwell said.
A retired endocrinologist, Brownwell grew up in Wenatchee and then practiced medicine in Scotland and Switzerland for many years. She returned to Washington when her husband died and soon after joined Friends.
“I brought back 5,000 books and I’ve slowly pared that down,” Brownwell said.
Spate joined Friends about seven years ago. Along with serving as treasurer, she is chairman of the book sale.
Spate and her husband moved to Mill Creek from Salt Lake City, where she worked for Delta Airlines. She joined Friends of the Mill Creek Library because she wanted to be involved in an organization that had meaning for her.
“We are retired ladies who share a passion for books,” Spate said. “We understand the importance of literacy in the health of our nation.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book sale Saturday
Friends of the Mill Creek Library annual used book sale, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, at the library, 15429 Bothell-Everett Highway. Bring your own bag. Most books are 50 cents or $1. More info: 425-337-4822.