Merryreading Books is located in the rear of Merrymeeting Hall at 27 Main St., Bowdoinham. Photos contributed by Bowdoinham Public Library

The Bowdoinham Public Library has opened a used-books store, Merryreading Books, in the basement of Merrymeeting Hall on Main Street. Operated entirely by volunteers in donated space, the venture is intended to replace the revenue generated by the town’s annual plant sale, which will end next May after 50 years.

Jen Foley, left, book store volunteer, and Kate Cutko, Bowdoinham library director, outside Merrymeeting Hall, which houses the library’s used book store.

Recently, the library — which was already selling used books at the annual Celebrate Bowdoinham festival, the weekly seasonal farmer’s market and other local events — was about to lose its book storage space down at the waterfront. Library Director Kate Cutko had been considering setting up shop in a permanent location, library officials had been contemplating a temporary move to Merrymeeting Hall as part of a planned library renovation. When the renovation fell through, the volunteers at Merrymeeting Hall offered the space for a book store instead, charging $1 a year for “rent.”

The Historical Society, which owns Merrymeeting Hall, donated the shelves, and volunteers who have been working for years to rehabilitate the building donated their time to renovate a section of the basement into a book store.

“This is all possible because of the generosity of the Historical Society and the volunteers who fill dozens of shifts each week and donate books for us to sell,” Cutko said. “It is a trend now for libraries to open used book stores as a source of income, but I think we can compete because our prices are lower.”

The store charges $3 for hardcovers, $2 for trade paperbacks and $1 for mass market paperbacks and children’s books. Gift certificates are also available. They welcome donations of gently used books that are clean and don’t smell musty, no more than one box at a time per donor.

Merryreading Books is located in the rear of Merrymeeting Hall at 27 Main St. in Bowdoinham. It is open from 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Donations are accepted during store hours only.

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