A cozily crammed bookstore, Harvey’s has an inventory of more than 20,000 secondhand books that will satisfy a myriad of interests. Pining for mystery and suspense? There are the masters — Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Dean Koontz — waiting for eager hands to peruse their pages. Shelves after shelves house fiction titles, yet there are also many non-fictions, biographies, religious commentaries, craft and humor books, children’s books, and much, much more to satiate a literary thirst.
There are even new categories perhaps unheard of before. Margery Bouris, a friendly, retired school psychologist, now volunteers as coordinator of the Friends of the Whitesburg Public Library’s Harvey’s House of Books.
“One of my favorite sections is event biography,” Margery said as she waves a hand over the small yet curious selection of books. “Event biographies are non-fiction and tell about a journey to an interesting destination that people might not know a lot about.”
When told that event biography sounds like unfamiliar territory, Bouris laughed.
“We kind of made that up,” she said. “Sometimes we go to the library and ask the librarians because we don’t know where to put the books. We end up making a lot of our own categories.”
It turns out that Harvey’s has its own unique event biography that deserves to be read. Three years ago, Harvey’s opened its doors to the people of Whitesburg and the surrounding communities, after living in temporary locations.
Bouris explains the time line: “The bookstore has been several places in Whitesburg, but when we were first starting out, a bookstore in Newnan went out of business and gave us hundreds of books.
“We stored the books in an old house associated with the church across the street. Then we’d have book sales in the school parking lot, but then we were able to move into the old bank building. We had to leave the book bank because the property was sold. So the city let us move into the Whitesburg Recreation Center. The problem with that, however, is that the space was small and we kept moving our books into the bigger area, and it became a problem whenever they had events because we would have to pack up all of our books.”
So where did the bookstore eventually end up?
The Carroll County Board of Education donated a 24 by 60-foot surplus mobile classroom that currently serves as Harvey’s new location. After renovating the mobile home, Harvey’s now has a bathroom, a small kitchen, and a long wooden front porch.
Harvey’s House of Books also sits on land given by the city of Whitesburg.
Like the Barker House and Neva Lomason Memorial Library in Carrollton, Harvey’s serves as one of the Whitesburg Public Library’s most dedicated donors, giving all of its proceeds to benefit the library. People from as far as Grantville, Senoia and Newnan in Coweta County are regular patrons of the bookstore. These people are one of the heartbeats of the bookstore — they are the ones donating the books.
“Everyone donates the books,” Bouris said. “Everybody. When people are cleaning out for spring and fall we usually get a lot of books. A lot of people from the University of West Georgia donate as well.
Jackie Pate, a Whitesburg resident and Harvey’s volunteer, said people who are moving like to donate their books because it is easier than toting the books to a new house.
“No one wants to throw away their books,” said Pate. “So they’re so happy that they have a place to donate.”
Another vital function of the bookstore, besides generous donations by bookworms, are the 28 volunteers who help sort books and assist patrons. Most of the volunteers work a regular two-hour shift each week and gravitate toward their favorite subject to arrange.
“For example,” said Bouris, “a doctor comes in to sort the medical books. He comes in when he can and sorts through all of those types of books for us and tells us what’s no good anymore.”
The bookstore’s namesake, Harvey Toub, was a member of the Friends who gave his time, money and talent toward the completion of not only the bookstore, but also the library. A retired mechanical engineer, Toub obviously had an impact on the volunteers who knew him. A plaque inside the bookstore commemorates Toub, and tells a short biography of his life, and how he came to be interested in the bookstore. Through it all, Toub struggled with personal health issues.
“Harvey was dying of cancer at the time,” Pate said. “And he didn’t live to see us open.”
“He knew we were going to name the bookstore after him, though,” adds Bouris.
There are still many ongoing projects that ensure a well-stocked library for the people of Whitesburg. While Harvey’s donates all that it can to the library, the bookstore still deals with one expense: its electricity bill.
“It’s astronomical,” Bouris said. “We do need to fix that, and we also need to build a shade for the air conditioner. That is one of our big needs right now, to cut down on energy costs.”
The Friends of the Library always welcomes donations of books. Harvey’s House of Books is open Mondays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. to noon. Each week, Frugal Fridays features half-price books. Normally, Hardcovers are usually $2, and paperbacks are 50 cents each. For more information, call 470-345-9397.