Book Swap encourages recreational reading

Outside the entrance of the Wellehan Library in Heffernan Center, a new addition to the library’s resources is engaging the College’s recreational readers.

BooksWellehan Library’s new Book Swap – an initiative of the library’s public services associate, Sharon Kelly – provides students, faculty, and staff a unique opportunity to borrow, exchange, and discover books outside of the library’s holdings.

The Book Swap, modeled after similar projects established by libraries and communities through the United States, is like a miniature library that operates on the honor system, says Shelly Davis, Wellehan Library’s director. Readers are free to pick up a title from the Book Swap, return it when finished, and select another title.

To build the Book Swap’s holdings, Kelly received numerous book donations from faculty and staff. This community effort isn’t anything new to Kelly. “I live in a small town, and the library is very well patronized and supported,” she says. “Their Book Swap consists of a cart full of paperbacks, and although the library shelves hold thousands of titles, patrons can’t help but wander over to look at what is on the cart. It is stocked completely by patrons sharing their favorite titles.”

How did Kelly know a project like this would work at Saint Joseph’s? There was an audience simply waiting for it to happen. “I got the idea for our Book Swap from the students,” she says. Kelly, who works evenings in Wellehan Library, noticed students wanting something new after evening study sessions. “Often, students just wanted to unwind with a good book. My thinking was, why not set up a place where students and anyone on campus could exchange popular titles to read and relax?”

Davis thinks the Book Swap is a great opportunity for the College community, and, she says, is reaching an audience whom she knew already existed. “Our students are readers,” she says. “We see recreational reading materials being ordered all the time.”

Kelly sees the library as the “hub of academic life” at Saint Joseph’s. Noting how often it’s used by members of the College community, in addition to its variety of resources, Kelly says it was the ideal location for a Book Swap. And since it opened in the fall of 2013, the Book Swap has been a hit.

“I am constantly seeing different books appear and others disappear off the shelves,” Kelly says. “Our hope is that these books are out there being passed around between friends to read. That is the whole point of the Book Swap, and we are thrilled there has been such an interest.”