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Your Community: Treasure found in book

Julia Westhoff - May 11, 2019 10:00 am


Have you ever found a hidden treasure in a book? The Friends of Johnson County Library Sorting Center accepts and processes nearly 600,000 donated books and items annually. Each book must be individually inspected several times for wear-and-tear, general salability and sometimes unintended contents. That means that occasionally, Sorting Center volunteers discover items between the pages as they prepare materials for the Friends bookstores and book sales, which support the Library.

That’s exactly what happened to volunteer Emily Griffin and sorter extraordinaire Tedy Bellos – but this story is particularly special.

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Bellos had sorted and examined an older book for online listing and, as she handed it off to Griffin, called her attention to an odd old letter she’d found between the pages. Griffin recognized the name of the town on the county invoice for “road dragging” and peeked at the addressee – it happened to be her great-grandfather Bill Bruning!

Coincidentally, Griffin’s brother had done some downsizing and had donated his used books, including the old family Vitalogy, to the Friends. Griffin recalls many childhood hours poring through this seminal late-19th century family health encyclopedia, common in many farm households. Accompanying the letter was a small postcard with a name faintly penciled in – Griffins’s other great-grandfather! Apparently their respective children, her grandparents, had preserved these mementos in the book.

“We have many treasures that come through the Sorting Center,” says Bellos, “and this family treasure is a special one!”

The Friends are a membership organization with almost 1,000 participants. Their primary activities are operation of three bookstores at Antioch, Blue Valley and Central Libraries, and their annual book sales, such as the upcoming Sizzlin’ Summer Book Sale June 26-29. They raise funds to support Library programs and activities such as Incarcerated Services, Summer Reading and 6 by 6 Ready to Read. Learn more about the Friends here.

Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom

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