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Book swap hopes to fill gap left by library closing

Organizers say they don't want to replace library, but continue some of its services until it reopens

HAMPDEN A group of Hampden residents has announced that, since the library has closed, they will host a monthly book swap.

"We know we cannot replace the valuable services that a local library provides, but we'd like to offer a venue for free books to ease the burden and expense of traveling to other libraries, and also, create an opportunity for a regular literary event as a means of taking some positive community spirited action in light of the current sad situation," organizer Cindy Bailey said. "We thank the Library Trustees for endorsing the Book Swap and the Board of Selectmen for their approval to hold it at the Town Hall."

Organizers say that, with the library now closed due to the May Proposition 2 1/2 override failure, people of Hampden have not only lost a high quality library and vital information access services, but, also, part of their sense of community and quality of life. According to the 2004 Hampden Town Report, that year there were 4,457 registered library borrowers 85.89 percent of the town's population. "The Heart of the Community" is what many Hampden residents have considered their library to be, according to book swap organizers.

The Hampden Community Book Swap is scheduled to take place on the second Saturday of each month (until the Hampden Free Public Library reopens), 10 to 11 a.m., beginning on Aug. 13.

It will be held on the front lawn of the Town Hall. In case of inclement weather, and during colder months, it will be held inside in the library hallway.

The format is: for all ages; bring a book or two to swap, and take home the same number of books you bring; share your favorite tomes, or just pass along a book that someone else may enjoy; only books in good condition; and it is preferred that no bags, boxes or large quantities of books are to be left.

A story time is also planned, and organizers look forward to bringing in some guest readers. Tentatively scheduled are an actress and a children's book author. This is an evolving program and may have more offerings in the future.

There will be door prize drawings on Aug. 13 for the inaugural swap.

Several local businesses are offering support; organizers hope that others will join in. More volunteers are welcome and needed. For more information, or to offer help, call Cindy at 566-8212.