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Friday, 02 May 2014 10:07

20, 000 Books: Free to Young Readers

By | News

 By: Colette Linton 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A treasure hunt is afoot: Hundreds upon hundreds of books are lining the walls of the Saratoga Book Warehouse, to which children are encouraged to come for a the tactile experience of perusing walls of some classic and varied children’s books as John Keefe, the store’s owner, plans to give away as many as 20,000 books within the next six months “no strings attached”, he said.

 This program is Keefe's first “Readers are Leaders” initiative, during which individuals 18 and under are invited to choose any children’s book/chapter book, in the warehouse of approximately 30,000 children's books, that sparks their interest during the first week of each month starting May 1 - 7.

 I wanted to really ignite that burning desire for reading,” Keefe said. “I'll even finance it just to see some kids get excited about it (reading).”

 The one-year-old Saratoga Book Warehouse houses a variety of books that were once dumpster bound from around the area. Keefe collects them from community colleges, libraries, retiring professors, school systems and, sometimes, the dump. By the end of the year, he can collect as much as 100 tons of books, of which some are stored at his textbook store located at Saranac Lake.

 Some years the total can be as much as 200 tons of books a year, Keefe said. “That’s when I decided to save a tractor trailer load full and hand them out. Otherwise they would all be ground up,” he said.

 Keefe started off in the business of recycling unwanted books. If he can’t store the books he collects or doesn’t think he can sell them, he instead sells them to companies that then grind them up to make products such as paper, insulation or other paper products.

 However, just as Keefe remembers books from his childhood that left an impression on him, “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss and “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George, he is kick starting the “Readers are Leaders”.

 I just ended up with so many books that were good,” Keefe said. His goal is now to help the younger generation find the authors and stories that move them.

 After receiving a positive reception after opening the warehouse in Saratoga Springs a year ago, he started thinking “how can I really make a big impression,” he said, recalling the beginnings of the “Readers are Leaders” program.

 For the next six months, ten thousand to 20,000 books equates to handing out about 300 books a day or 2,000 a week, for the lower limit (10,000), and at 3,000 a week the upper limit of his planned give away.

 Saratoga Book Warehouse is open Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 While the first week of the month children can take with them one free book a day or more, Keefe said, the rest of the month 95 percent of the books at the store are prices at a dollar.

 There are classics for adults and children to be found as well as many others worth a venture between the covers and into a subject to quench a forgotten or new-found curiosity.

 Some customers, Keefe said, buy books to place around their house or restaurant for decoration as there are many large and lightly used textbooks and picture books.

 Saratoga Book Warehouse is located at 68 Weibel Avenue. For more information, Saratoga Book Warehouse has a facebook page, or the store can be contacted at (518) 450-1122.






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