Far-away donor boosts Winthrop library collection
David Gibson spent hours of his boyhood days scouring the local library for new books to read. At age 86, that experience has stayed with him. These days, his avocation is to give something back in appreciation.
That was the motivation for Gibson, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, to recently donate a box of about two dozen books to the Winthrop library – one of several small-town libraries around the country that have benefitted from his generosity. How he came to be aware of Winthrop, Washington, involved a bit of serendipity.
While doing some online research, Gibson came across a May 2020 online discussion hosted by Friends of the Winthrop library, the nonprofit that is building a new library for the town. That program included FOWL President Shannon Polson virtually chatting with well-known author Ann Patchett.
“I enjoyed the interview, especially when Shannon started talking about small town libraries,” Gibson said in note to the Winthrop library. “That is a subject very dear to my heart.”
Gibson said he had mailed a box of books to the Winthrop library including some picture books for small children and some recently published novels,” Gibson said in the note. “ While I hope that many of these books are candidates for your bookshelves … if you can’t use them, share them with other libraries or put them on your sale table. They are yours to do with as you see fit. Please tell Ms. Polson that her interview last year resulted in some books for the Winthrop Library from an 86-year-old man who buys books at Parnassus Books, Ann Patchett’s bookstore.”
Love for reading
In an accompanying background article that Gibson pass along, Gibson said he had been coordinating gifts to small libraries around the country since the 1980s, including places such as Frankfort, Kansas; Eureka, Nevada; Silverton, Colorado; Kadoka, South Dakota; Cable, Wisconsin; Hinton, West Virginia; Cranberry Lake, New York; and Tenants Harbor, Maine – most of them with populations under 1,000.
“Growing up in a small Mississippi town in the 1940s before television, meant that the little local library was about the only place I could experience new people and new places,” Gibson said in the article. “So, that library did for me exactly what it was intended to do. It gave me a life-long interest in reading, a love for books and an appreciation of libraries, especially small-town libraries.”
“In the late 1980s I began going to book sales held by city libraries or other organizations to buy books to send to small, isolated libraries,” Gibson continued. “In recent years, I have asked friends to give me books from their shelves that they know they will likely never read again. … I tell my friends that I want their never-to-read-again-books if they have a good dust jacket that’s not torn and if they are not religious, not political and not textbooks. Books that are like new. Now some are beginning to understand the pleasure of sharing their books, like ones from their book clubs.”
“It was astonishing to open the box [from Gibson] and see so many brand-new books, most of which were published in the last two years,” Winthrop librarian Ree West said. She said she would incorporate the books into the Winthrop library collection and set aside any duplicates for a future book sale.