Book lovers rejoice: The Pond House Booktique is open and has books, books and more books.
At the moment, the Booktique, a small, cozy bookshop run by the Friends of the Ledding Library, is only open Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It occupies part of a ranch-style house just across the pond from the main library in downtown Milwaukie.
The city purchased the house and has helped with upgrades, said Carol Kay, president of the Friends of the Ledding Library, but her organization has helped with setting up furniture, shelving, curtains and more.
The Friends of Ledding Library puts on an annual book sale, and Kay said, 'For years we've been buried in books.'
She added, 'I said, 'Why don't you buy me a place and buy me a manager' to set up a bookstore. And then I met Barbara-Lee [at the library] and we stood out front and talked, and she volunteered to set it up, and now we have a marvelous bookstore.'
Booktique manager Barbara-Lee Orloff, a Milwaukie resident, is an artist, photographer and the former director of Friends of Tryon Creek.
'I've always done something in the non-profit world, and I've just evolved,' she said, adding, 'Books are my passion.'
'All the books, shelving, CDs, music, records and more are donated from the community. Donations are accepted year round and are tax deductible,' Kay said.
She noted that she attends estate sales and sometimes drops off her card.
As far as donated books go, 'We say yes to everything,' she said, giving examples of people in the past who have donated many boxes of books and shelving.
'The books come in and we have volunteers who go through everything,' she said, noting that volunteers check the inventory in the library, and 'what they don't take, we get.'
In the fall, the Friends of Ledding Library has an upscale garage sale, so donations of household items, furniture, decorations and gift items, as well as books are much appreciated.
Inside the Booktique, the books are organized by subject matter, like cooking or science fiction, but are not alphabetized by title or author.
'We are not Powell's - we're more of a discovery center. For our size we have a remarkable inventory,' Orloff noted.
'People may discover an author they've never heard of or find a book that is out of print. It's so rewarding when I hear somebody shout 'Look at this!' It's like fireworks,' she added.
'People exclaim about our prices [being so low], but we want to place books in people's hands - we want to keep our prices moderate,' Orloff said.
The Booktique has books in all major categories, including fiction, biographies, cookbooks and collectibles, and also stocks sheet music, DVDs, CDs, records, posters, magazines and more.
'It's amazing what is packed in here,' Orloff said.
'And all the money goes back to the Friends,' Kay said, adding that the Friends organization funds projects and activities that do not fit within the Ledding Library's budget.
'We are looking to upgrade Internet access [at the library] and we sponsor the children's and teens summer reading programs. We provided the books for The Big Read,' among other things, Kay noted.
Booktique 'a service to the community'
One thing that sets the Booktique apart, both women said, is the fact that they do something special for children.
There is a yellow wagon loaded with books, and 'we give a free book to every child [who visits the shop]. We also load up the wagon and take it to the Sunday Farmers Market and give away books there,' Orloff said.
'A lot of parents are delighted and parents with pre-schoolers are avid Booktique visitors,' she added.
Kay and Orloff also together praise the volunteers, the city of Milwaukie and the Ledding Library.
'People in Milwaukie really value culture and education and they make use of their public facilities. The library is like a magnet for families,' Orloff said.
'The library is a vibrant part of the whole setup,' Kay added, noting that the library staff is particularly helpful and supportive.
Looking ahead to the future of the Booktique, the two women hope that the community will continue to support the shop, and expressed interest in having artists show their work at the site.
'The setting is so beautiful,' Orloff noted, pointing out the waterfall across the street and the pond with waterfowl at the back of the Booktique.
She added, 'Milwaukie has such a special quality - there are still a lot of people who are born here and stay here. People, families, are drawn here. [The Booktique provides] a wonderful service to the community.'
Upcoming events at the Pond House
The Pond House was once a residence and home to medical offices, but now it houses the Booktique and is the site of monthly poetry readings.
This year the annual plant sale will be held at the Pond House on Saturday, May 10, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Items available include perennials, trees, shrubs, house plants, stepping stones, hand-made birdhouses, gardening books and more. All proceeds benefit the Ledding Library.
The Pond House Booktique
2215 SE Harrison St., across the pond from the Ledding Library in downtown Milwaukie
Hours: Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To make a donation, call 503-786-7580.
The shop accepts: books, DVDs, CDs, records, books-on-tape, sheet music, gift items, vases, baskets, jewelry, holiday decorations, pictures, small mirrors and more.
The Friends of the Ledding Library
To join the Friends of the Ledding Library, pick up a form at the circulation desk and send it to Friends of the Ledding Library, 10660 SE 21st Ave., Milwaukie, OR 97222.
Membership fees are $10 for an individual or family, or $100 for a lifetime membership.