Library Features...

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: General Store Book Basket Helps La Selva Library
Branch: La Selva Beach

Mike Wilson
GIVING IT BACK: Mike Wilson,
owner of El Patio Grocery in
La Selva Beach, sells books from
a market basket to raise
additional funds for the La Selva
Branch Library

As a young boy growing up in La Selva Beach, Mike Wilson recalls going to the small branch library and checking out books like H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Now, as an adult with a business in town, he's giving something back to the library.

Wilson and his wife, Diane, are the owners of El Patio Grocery, a small store serving the community that is located several miles away from any major commercial facilities. At the back of the store, near the deli section, he keeps a shopping cart full of paperback books; he sells them for a quarter and donates the proceeds to the library.

"I don't remember how long ago we decided to do it — probably around 15 years ago," he said. "We used to have people coming in during the summer, looking at magazines, and saying they wished we had books."

Dot Allen, a former La Selva library branch manager, suggested that a book basket would be a nice fundraiser for minor library expenses, and the idea took off. Now, quite a few people in town bring in books they're done with and buy from the basket as well.

"It's never empty," Wilson said. "We typically have 25-30 books in there, and sometimes it's overflowing. But the sales are pretty much consistent year around."

He keeps a separate can at the register for proceeds from book sales and said some people, when they find out what the money is for, put in a dollar for a 25-cent book. In addition to locals, the book bin gets a lot of business from campers at the nearby KOA and Sunset and Manresa State Beaches. He estimated the book bin has raised hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years.

And he's happy to do it. "People in this community love the library," Wilson said. "It's a very important part of the community. My granddaughter loves it and is always going there."

Heather Pereira, La Selva branch manager, echoed the sentiment. "This is a very close-knit neighborhood with a strong sense of community," she said. "The store and the library act as central meeting places, and the book basket makes a connection."

story by Mike Wallace