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Store's sales help benefit Braselton-West Jackson library

BRASELTON - Braselton Library Manager Beverly Adkins said her institution has the "best of friends."

In fact, it has about 225 of them: members of the Friends of the Braselton-West Jackson Library.

"I don't know what I would do without them," Adkins said. "They are truly our blessing."

The group began in 2004, the year the town took over management of the library. Members of the Woman's Club, which opened a library in 1974 as a volunteer project, started the Friends of the Library.

The Friends of the Library holds membership drives and fund-raisers and sells books, gifts and refreshments in a store inside the Braselton Library to raise money to buy books, DVDs and equipment for the facility, board president Diane Lemaster said.

Since 2004, the group has donated more than $11,000 to the library, Lemaster said. About $500 a month is earned from store sales, she said. The Friends have also written grants to purchase books - receiving $15,000 from Jackson EMC and $1,000 each from Publix Super Markets Charities and Georgia Power, she said.

Lemaster said men and women come from Hoschton, Gainesville, Pendergrass, Jefferson and other nearby areas to volunteer with the group. Lifetime memberships are available for $100, and annual membership fees are $10, she said.

"When we first started the Friends and started asking people to be members, some assumed libraries were outdated," Lemaster said. "But there's nothing like the written word. I think libraries are still needed."

When the library opened in 2006 at its current location, Lemaster said she envisioned people buying cups of coffee from the store and reading newspapers while sitting outside in the rocking chairs. And that's what people do now - although Lemaster said patrons prefer to buy soft drinks.

Nearly 100 people volunteer each month at the store, volunteer coordinator Sandy Karr said. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.

"We're bringing people in to see the library is more than just books on the shelf," she said.

SideBar: If you shop

' What: Friends of the Braselton-West Jackson Library Store

' Where: Inside the Braselton Library, 132 West Broadway Ave., Braselton

' When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays

' Note: The store sells soft drinks, coffee and snacks as well as T-shirts, books and gifts. All proceeds are donated to the Braselton Library.