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Library Philosophy and Practice Vol. 9, No. 1 (Fall 2006)

ISSN 1522-0222

For Charity or Profit? A Case Study of The Friends of Ferguson Library's Used Bookshop Program

Westerly A. Donohue
Ph.D. Student
Sociology Department
New School for Social Research
New York, NY 10003

Volunteers in Ferguson Library Barb Leffler and Robbie Monsma are too involved with their work of breaking down the Monthly Collectibles Sale to notice me taking this photograph. A lot of grunt work is put into the Ferguson Main Library's Friends of Ferguson Main Used Bookshop every day.




Volunteers in Ferguson Library

Conceptual Reflections

The central question of my research was whether the Friends of Ferguson Used Bookshops Program could find a balance between selling books for a profit, in order to generate gifts for the Ferguson Library, and serving its charity activity, Friend-to-Friend (F-2-F), that provides books free of charge to a variety of institutional recipients. My study provided unexpected answers to this question based on my participation with volunteers. Each had her own set of qualifications for how this balance was to be struck. A series of in-depth interviews revealed how each volunteer thought about the Program's aims of charity versus profit, and whether these aims were 'appropriate,' 'somewhatappropriate,' or 'inappropriate,' as to who constituted 'appropriate' recipients of the Program's philanthropic endeavor to develop a methodological basis for conducting the study.

Introduction/Conceptual Reflections

Ferguson Library

The intersection between sociology as concept and sociology as action is found for me in the application of concepts to visual sociological study. This study represents my first attempt to work at this juncture. The study of an ongoing activity such as the Friends of Ferguson Library's Used Books Program represents a challenge insofar as it is not a static, caught-in-time one; it is going on right at this moment, it continues into the future, and it is of interest to me to similarly continue to understand what happens to it, what its new challenges are, and how these challenges are met within the sociological framework of ideas and action.

Equally, learning more about the program has opened new doors of sociological inquiry to me: how do prisoners access reading materials? What is the future going to hold for their ability to do so? And, moreover, how do these practices vary between different prisons in Connecticut, in different states in the United States, and between those found in and between other countries? Since reading is so fundamental to life itself, how does the ability to access reading in prison shape the future outcomes of education for the young and adult people who are incarcerated? What are their educational opportunities, both while in prison, and after prison, when they make the transition to community life again, if they make this transition? These new questions may well form the direction and the focus of my future research, using the tools of visual sociology to put sociological conceptual frameworks into action.

Ferguson Library

Sociological Considerations and the Program

What is the matter? It lies, I think, with our lack of imagining in generating leading ideas. Because we are afraid of speculative ideas, we do, and do over and over again, an immense amount of dead, specialized work in the region of "facts". We forget that such facts are only data; that is, are only fragmentary, uncompleted meanings, and unless they are rounded out into complete ideas-a work which can only be done by hypotheses, by a free imagination of intellectual possibilities-they are as helpless as are all maimed things and as repellent as are needlessly thwarted ones. -John Dewey [1]

Based on the above lines, John Dewey could have been a sociologist living in 2006, advancing qualitative sociological research. Quantitatively-based research has dominated the field for so long that ethnographic field research seems almost to have been relegated to the sole domain of certain stubborn souls who insist on engaging sociology on the micro level, and social anthropologists. "The formulation of problems, then, should include explicit attention to a range of public issues and personal troubles; and they should open up for inquiry the causal connections between social milieux and social structure," C. Wright Mills wrote, inThe Sociological Imagination.[2] What seems central to Mills's view is that the use of imagination in sociological work is pivotal for studying what he termed 'the human variety'.[3] "A million little bargains are transacted every day, and everywhere there are more 'small groups' than anyone could ever count. The human variety also includes a variety of individual human beings; these too the sociological imagination must grasp and understand."[4]

Mills stressed the necessity of studying the human variety which incorporates a wider social sciences-grounded approach: ".that has firm hold of the orienting conception of social science as the study of biography, of history, and of the problems of their intersection within social structure."[5] Put another way, Harrison C. White, inIdentity and Control, wrote that, "History stands for what is unforeseen, which only therefore is of historical interest. So, paradoxically, history stands for action. Network can stand for the analytic and transposable approach of social science, and therefore network can also stand for social organization in general."[6] History must therefore be taken as a basic premise to conducting good sociological work.

            Qualitative research serves many important functions in sociology that cannot be captured by volumes of numbers alone. "The heart of a qualitative stance is the desire to make sense of lived experience," (Marecek, Fine, Kidder 2001).[7] This approach is useful to me in studying one volunteer-based organization that focuses on community. "When people talk to each other, defining a situation on their own terms and developing a capacity to act in concert, they constitute a democratic alternative to terror and hegemonic force," wrote Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, inThe Politics of Small Things.[8] Seen from this perspective, community-based organizations that act according to their own rules, as I believe is the case with small volunteer-driven organizations-such as the Friends of Ferguson Library's Used Bookshops Program-represent an effective form of local political resistance to the dangers a lack of social cohesion presents in our globalizing world. "Researchers often regard a sense of place as rootedness, which is taken as a personal strength opposite to alienation." Ben-Sira (1989), definedalienation as "One's belief in an unordered and unjust society, a lack of belonging and meaningless social interactions." He further regarded alienation as ".the opposite of a psychological sense of community."[9]

            In studying such a small group of individuals dedicated to a local organizational endeavor, Clifford Geertz gave instructive advice, inThe Interpretation of Cultures, focusing on "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,"[10] (in which Geertz acknowledged Gilbert Ryle as the originator of the term 'thick description', as opposed to 'thin description'), in which Geertz asserted ".lies the object of ethnography:"[11]

A stratified hierarchy of meaningful structures in terms of which twitches, winks, fake-winks, parodies, rehearsals of parodies are produced, perceived, and interpreted, and without which they would not (not even the zero-form twitches, whichas a cultural category, are as much nonwinks as winks are nontwitches) in fact exist, no matter what anyone did or didn't do with his eyelids.[12]

Here, of course, Geertz referred to the famous narrative Ryle built on categories of winks exchanged between two boys, the more sociologically descriptive form being a 'thick' description of the series of interactions involved. In this context, I can clearly employ thick description in my study of the people who interact at the library in the Used Bookshops Program. Moreover, Geertz observed, "The ethnographer "inscribes" social discourse; he writes it down. In doing so, he turns it from a passing event, which exists on in its own moment of occurrence, into an account, which exists in its inscriptions and be reconsulted."[13] This is the underlying purpose of my study: to capture in words those interactions that would otherwise disappear in time without a trace, and to show the significance of daily interactions between people in a small group that works to improving their community. Geertz reminded us that:

To look at the symbolic dimensions of social action-art, religion, ideology, science, law, morality, common sense-is not to turn away from the existential dilemmas of life for some empty realm of de-emotionalized forms; it is to plunge into the midst of them. The essential vocation of interpretive anthropology is not to answer our deepest questions, but to make available to us answers that others, guarding other sheep in other valleys, have given, and thus to include them in the consultable record of what has been said.[14]

I hope that anthropology does not mind me borrowing Geertz's ideas for sociological purposes.

Visual Sociological Considerations and the Program                    

In attempting to capture the highly transitory nature of life's everyday moments between the volunteers at the Ferguson Library's Used Bookshops Program, I decided to use photography. As an experienced photojournalist, I was already knowledgeable in using a camera, but, as a sociologist, was new to the undertakings consolidated within the term,visual sociology. John Grady has provided "at leave five" reasons ".why a more visual social science-making arguments with images and other types of visible evidence of human intent and action-has much to contribute to the study of society and culture."[15] The first is that studying how the messages of visual are produced, ".what they encode, and how they are consumed opens up a vein of data that richly complements the types of information social scientists usually mine."[16] The second is that an image is a form of retrievable storage for ".complexly layered meanings."[17] A third reason is that, "Thinking, writing and talking about images can make arguments not only more vivid but more lucid as well."[18] Fourth, the documentary production of visual images can be modified for social science purposes as a means of communication. Last, Grady believes that, ".working with images is ideally suited for teaching about social and cultural processes and issues in the classroom." The above reasons pertain to my study of the volunteers at the Ferguson Library's Used Bookshops Program. More recently, Grady has described visual sociology in the context of ethnography. "Photography and film strengthen the ethnographic project by freezing moments of perception, capturing that which was in the frame for recall later. While the camera's frame is not unlike human vision, its focal range is far wider and includes far more detail than even the best-trained eye can perceive."[19] In addition, Grady endorsed the use of archived visual materials by social scientists. Narrative sociology is a natural fit for visual methods as well, he proposed. In citing the history of sociologists who wanted to make use of ".the expressive potential of photography," the International Visual Sociology Association" (IVSA) was thus formed.[20] Grady resisted the notion that visual sociology is on a ".trajectory to become a new field of sociology,"[21] and instead it, ".enriches and broadens the prevailing concerns of the discipline,"[22] In listing the methods employed traditionally by social anthropologists, the visual sociologist he has asserted they:

.Still take careful notes but will also log their photographs of videotape. They still tape record interviews even when talking with a subject about a photograph. They still conduct surveys, administer questionnaires and utilize secondary data, even as they value aesthetic considerations in visualizing the data they produce. Finally, some visual sociologists make movies or photo-essays where they explore worlds that are either hidden or so taken-for-granted that they might as well have been hidden. All of these practices are what any sociologist would be expected to do if they had been trained to interpret and construct images for research purposes. In such a case, of course, they would be calledvisual sociologists.[23]

The IVSA, Grady has written, is a satisfactory clearinghouse for the multi-disciplinary exchange of ideas necessary for improving visual research methods and image interpretation. Nevertheless, visual sociologists are strongly committed to integrating image-based research and interpretation into sociological training, research and teaching."[24] I cannot help thinking this seems to be the beginnings of a sub-field.

In Gender Advertisements, Erving Goffman commented upon the frame complexing of "apparently naïve photographs": A "real" photographic portrait may be one that strikes the viewer as bad in various ways: it may be unflattering or fail to capture the personality the model is "known" to have or be badly composed, lighted, printed and so forth. But these deficiencies do not reflect on the genuineness of the portrait."[25] Goffman, of course, referred to gender-oriented commercial photography, but, for the sake of visual sociology, the "real" photographic approach provides the readers of a sociological study with a more intimate account of the narrative than can be captured by words alone. As Howard S. Becker put it: "They are social constructions, pure and simple,"[26] and, in this sense do not really differ so much from the aim of sociologically-oriented photography, after all. The sociologist is, ultimately, constructing a "reality" with a camera just as much as a news photographer, or an advertising photographer.

Gender Considerations and the Program

Volunteers in Ferguson Library


Tools of the trade. One volunteer usually likes only to work in the back room. A big part of the job involves cleaning books. These are the rags that help get the job done. The volunteer did not want to be identified in the photograph. He is very diligent in how his performs his work sorting  assignments, and usually volunteers several times a week.


            This study was not about the subject of genderper se, but about volunteering in a library's used bookshop. The women I have interviewed told me they like being around books, that being in the library is a good way to get to know the community, and because they like to meet customers. I have not interviewed anyone who was going to be exclusively a life-long volunteer on a full time basis. The younger women were either preparing to study, although some had their expectations altered by immigrating to the United States with their husbands, due to the husbands' job transfers, or were not married, and deciding what to do in the future.

The women who immigrated to America viewed working in a library as a good way to get to know U.S. culture. The older, American women I interviewed had already engaged in full time careers and whose children were now either grown or nearly so, and the women had the time to engage in community service, at least on a part time basis. Robbie was, and continues to be, the most active volunteer. Her life circumstances are somewhat different from that of the others. Robbie had a twenty-year-long career as a lawyer, and then wanted a meaningful change, which coincided with her husband's last transfer (to Stamford), as a publisher. Her youngest children were nearly grown and off to college, but Robbie had also become a lay minister and had obtained a Master's Degree in Christian Leadership. Her full-time involvement in volunteering was more of a calling based both on her communitarian and religious beliefs. When the opportunity came along to become involved with the Ferguson's Used Book Shops' Program, it was a way for her to apply her beliefs to a worthwhile cause, as she has told me, both in conversations and in the formal interview.

            It is different when a woman is married from an early age to a man in a high status occupation, and she refrains from pursuing her own career, happened more often in the past than it does today, as my research bears out. There are studies that have looked into such women, and among them Arlene Kaplan Daniels'sInvisible Careers: Women Civic Leaders from the Volunteer World.[27] In this study Daniels explores the volunteer work of a group of women in 'Pacific City', a ".large metropolis in the Northwestern United States," and Daniels admitted she had dispelled her own negative stereotypes of 'society ladies' who served as volunteers upon completing her study.[28]

            Indeed, Daniels's respondents are very unlike mine. As she wrote: "For the unsalaried middle-class or upper-class woman, the ideology of voluntarism combines ideas about the unsuitability or impracticality of paid employment for women like themselves with the desire to find interesting or challenging employment."[29] These characteristics seem more typical of the Stamford female volunteer of 1900, rather than of 2006, as my study demonstrated.

Another difference between the subjects in Daniels's study and my own involves the cost of volunteering. "Serious volunteers have many of the same work-related expenses as do the salaried. But, of course, volunteers receive no remuneration to offset these expenses. Community leaders realize that society sees their work as marginal in part because society fails to officially recognize their work-related expenses." At the Ferguson Library, no one is expected to pay out-of-pocket expenses. There is system in place that allows for the reimbursement of any expenses as the Used Bookshops Program is a non-profit concern of its own. The framework for this is the Program's State of Connecticut Tax Exemption License.

Citing the work of Talcott Parsons, Kathleen Gerson has studied women's career paths, inHard Choices, and believed that the purely structural childhood socialization theory applying the notion of marginalization of women working does not by itself satisfactorily explain the previously-accepted notion that women are thereby socially reinforced to accept this marginalization and form a more 'voluntarist' approach to a career. Her conclusion was that, "These women (studied) built their life paths out of a series of decisions over the course of their lives in response to the opportunities and constraints posed by their immediate social environments." Of the women, only some opted for "traditional commitments to marriage, motherhood, and homemaking; others took different paths."[30] The women in my study have taken a variety of paths in life as well, but the choices are not nearly as harsh as they were in the early 1980s, when Gerson's research was concluded. This applies to the members of the Friends of Ferguson Board as well, although I did not officially study this group. I am acquainted with them personally, however, and I know that these are mostly retired career women. Times have changed, and women are today in the more enviable position of choosing to be in a library's volunteer program because it is a pleasant way to spend some time, and they have done their duty to contribute to the support of their families by working full-time. The younger ones have no intention of staying home and "baking cookies," as Hillary Rodham Clinton has observed. Robbie has always been extremely high achiever by anyone's standard, and continues to be so as she has more time on her hands, as her children leave home, this time in a volunteer position of considerable responsibility. It is interesting to see how much has changed in just a few decades for women, let alone over a century.

            This is not to say that women still do not have a long way to go. "Women in much of the world lose out by being women. Their human powers of choice and sociability are frequently thwarted by societies in which they must live as the adjuncts and servants tothe end of others," Martha C. Nussbaum wrote, inWomen and Human Development.[31] What empowers women, however, Nussbaum argued in this work, is that women are, ".bearers of human capabilities, basic powers of choice that make a moral claim for opportunities to be realized and to flourish."[32] This condition of unequal failure in securing higher levels of capability, is ".therefore a problem of justice." I appreciate the capabilities approach, because it recognizes that women can offer these capabilities in cooperative efforts such as the Used Bookshops Program, without fanfare; people just getting on with their work, and with each woman bringing to the table her unique capabilities that provide the Used Bookshops Program with its very own flavors of a diverse, shared micro-community.

Good advice was proposed by Gerson for the future course of studies contemplating women in the context of gender:

The malleability of individuals and social institutions over the long term has two implications for the study of women. First, to uncover the causes of women's adult behavior, we must not confine ourselves to the study of childhood, but must rather look at female development over the life course. Second, to understand how women's social position is changing, we must look at how new cohorts of women "process" the social structural arrangements they inherit.[33]

A Modern Stamford Emerges

Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company

The year is 1883. The chimneys of Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company fill the South End, Stamford sky with dark smoke at its Canal Street location. The industrial company continues to expand its operations, despite an economic depression ending just four years before.[34] Less than a decade later, the locks concern, from which Stamford gained its nickname as "The City of Locks," employed over 1,000 workers, and prompted the attention of labor organizers like Samuel Gompers, who journeyed to Stamford in the spring of 1890, when men at Yale & Towne were earning a daily average wage of $3.15.[35] Elsewhere in the muddy city, Stamford Woolen Mills, the St. John Woodworking Company, Stamford Hosiery and Suspender Company, and others, employed the immigrants who continued to cram into Stamford's conditions of squalor until nativist sentiment caused further influxes of newcomers to dry up across America, by the 1920s.[36]

The industrial expansion of the last decades of the nineteenth century along the South New England coast brought about what Mark Twain coined The Gilded Age.[37]It was left to the middle- and upper-class women of Stamford, however, to counter the social ills that were produced by unbridled economic expansion. In 1882, the first Stamford Library opened its doors-albeit to a select group of subscribers, who all happened to be White, and male-on Atlantic Street.[38] A more democratic era was ushered in by 1911, when a new Georgian-style

Ferguson Library opened. (A restoration and expansion effort is presently underway.)

Below. A library user returning books.

Ferguson Library

This (now) main library of the Stamford Public Libraries system, with four branches in all, represents the city's first genuinely public library: open to all, free of charge. It is within this democratized structure that the Friends of Ferguson Used Bookshops operation is divided, with the bookshop at the front, left side, upon entering the main library through its giant glass-and-wood doors, and the back room area, located at the rear of the building, near the loading dock.  

In the same year the first real Stamford Public Library opened, the Suffrage Movement was well underway. Two out-of-state Suffrage activists, Susan Thurston Cooper, and Florence Pohlman Lee, had formed the Long Ridge Women's Suffrage Club. It remained true, however, that Stamford women were more reticent than the co-leaders of the club to become involved in struggles which affected them directly, and instead were focused on helping those less fortunate than themselves[39]

The authors of a Federal Writers' Project for the State of Connecticut reported that the immigrant population of the State at this time made up two-thirds of its inhabitants. Within little more than half a century, the comparatively homogeneous population of the State has been transformed into a group of diversified elements, the report stated.[40]Among Connecticut's urban areas, such as Stamford, the authors found that 29.5 percent of the average population was of "native White of native parentage,"[41] and 9.7 percent was of "native White of mixed parentage."[42]The statistics, drawn from the United States Census of 1930, also found that 33.2 percent was of "native White of foreign parentage", 2.2 percent was of "Negro" parentage, and 0.1 percent was of "other Colored races".[43] (Terminology of the study's authors, not mine.) It was from among these latter, mostly disadvantaged, population groups, that Stamford's women voluntary organization leaders focused their time and energies, and not the community as a whole, or women as a whole, with the exception being the voting rights of women, which had become a reality during the previous decade. Cultural, social, and political networks afforded them considerable autonomy, which were earned in their own right, and enhanced by the the status of their husbands' occupations.

There is one close parallel to be drawn between the group of Stamford women who made up its voluntary organizational leaders, and the women working in the Friends Used Bookshop today: the high rate of marriage among both. "The average woman leader was widowed: two of three leaders were married."[44] Of the seven women I surveyed, only one was unmarried, although only two of the seven are functioning in leadership voluntary roles. One is Robbie Monsma, the Chair of the Used Bookshops Committee on the Friends of Ferguson Board, whom is married to a local community business executive. In addition to her own high status as a former corporate lawyer of some two decades, and a lay minister with a Master's Degree in Christian Leadership, her social standing in the community is enhanced yet-more by Durrie, her husband's, position as the publisher of the local newspaper, The Stamford Advocate, and its affiliate in Greenwich, the Greenwich Time;[45] The 'Main' (Library) Used Bookshop Manager, Barbara ('Barb') Leffler, is also a married lawyer and a Stamford resident. Volunteer leaders such as Robbie and Barb have access to Stamford in 2006 at night.[46]

Ferguson Library entrance

Left, opposite the library's front entrance.





Ferguson Library

Along Bedford St., the Library's more modern façade is in strong contrast to the Georgian-style front façade of the structure, facing Broad St. The scale of both, however, is equally grand.

Frank, a Greenwich resident






Frank, a Greenwich resident, has just left the Avon Theater, on Bedford Street, after a movie, and is posing with a street sculpture. Many sculptures are dotted around the city, and they invite interaction.




Ferguson Library Friends Bookshop Program

Roseanna Antoine

Roseanna Antoine

The chart above represents, ".the complex network of possibilities that exist for a local library that has fully developed itself as an essential community asset" (Kretzmann and McKnight 1993)[47].From the information provided, the reader can see that the program has numerous constituent communities it is involved in one-on-one relationships with. It serves the public by providing quality used books, periodicals, CDs, videos, cassette tapes, maps, and other categories of materials at low prices. In return, members of the public use the program, both by buying their products and by donating written and other materials to it. It serves the members of Friends of Ferguson by offering them special discounts on products and sends them e-alerts on promotions. In return, Friends members use the shop and make donations. Robbie Monsma also treats other volunteers in the program as a constituent group, distributing to them a Volunteer Newsletter, to retain and recruit volunteers. In return, volunteer goodwill is increased. The program has a website viafriendsoffurguson.org, from which most information about the program is readily available. This reaches out to constituents within and outside of the Stamford area, increasing business, and attracting donations from afar. It provides free books to local daycare centers and all teachers in Stamford schools, which, in turn, enhances learning, and rewards students (through teachers) with free book coupons. This increases goodwill among the daycare and school communities. The program also provides free books to Stamford Non-Governmental Organizations, such as homeless shelters, Kids in Crisis, Domus House (a residential school program for children and youth not served within the public school district), and retirement homes. It also serves the Stamford hospitals.

Victor and Dave

Victor and Dave

These activities generate considerable goodwill in the community and lead to donations of books and money, and promotes special community projects involving the program which increases its profile in the community via media coverage. The program gives away books to the Stamford Superior Court, and Jury Rooms serving this court, as well as Jury Rooms in a few other communities (based on the available surplus of books, including to the Bronx, and New Rochelle, New York); the program serves special projects outside of the Stamford area as well, including providing free books to a school in Waveland, Mississippi that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and a girl's secondary school located in Ramallah, the West Bank. This returns both an increased visibility of the program through media coverage and increases good will outside of Stamford; the program has a direct relationship with book dealers and collectors via its Monthly Collectibles Sales, which generates added revenues, and places the program on the radar of these individuals; the program has developed strategically, mutually beneficial relationships with a book dealer, the manager of the adjoining Starbucks Coffee, and a lay chaplain who serves as the point of distribution of free books given him by the program for Connecticut's twenty-eight correctional institutions. This promotes the ability of prisoners to obtain reading materials, enhances the program's prestige, and serves the State of Connecticut generally. Last, the program has a primary two-way relationship with the Friends of Ferguson organization, through which it gives any surplus generated during its fiscal year to the Ferguson Library as 'Special Gifts' thus greatly increasing the quality of life for members of the public in Stamford.

The community assets approach takes as its starting point that everyone in a community has some gift or capacity of value to others. "In weak communities there are lots of people who have been pushed to the edge or exiled to institutions. Often, we say these people need help. They are needy. They have nothing to contribute. The label tells us so."[48] This approach to communities entails the view that effective communities identify the capacities of all their members and ensure that they are contributed. "However, the most powerful communities are those that can identify the gifts of those people at the margins and pull them into community life," Kretzmann and McKnight have concluded.[49] One of the primary reasons some communities do not come into their own power is that they do not mobilize the skills, capacities and talents of their residents or members.

Unfortunately, in some communities local residents have come to mistakenly believe they can build their community by an inventory of deficiencies. The common name for this deficiency inventory is a "needs survey". It is basically an effort to count up the emptiness in an individual or a neighborhood. The problem is that this information is not useful for community-building because it deals with people as potential clients and consumers. To be powerful, a community must have people who are citizens and producers.[50]

The Friends of Ferguson Library initiated the Used Bookshops Program as a way of drawing people to the library; and, once in the library, to activate people, by offering them ways of serving the community: to volunteer for the program, to join the Friends organization; to donate books, or organize book drives for the program. In these ways, the program takes the initiative in recognizing the patrons as people who can contribute to making life better for themselves and others in the Stamford community.

Kretzmann and McKnight point out:

"Libraries are natural community centers that do much more than just lend books to interested readers. Because the purpose of libraries is to make various resources available to members of their local communities, they are usually eager to encourage community participation and are often able to provide safe and welcoming places for community people to congregate and engage in activities that will be of benefit to the entire community. This means that libraries can play an essential role in the process of community-building and should be seen as vital assets that exist at the very heart of community life."[51]


Avon Theatre

Let It Shine All Along Bedford Street.Again. People walking at night around the Avon Theatre has become a familiar sight in downtown Stamford again, in recent years. Located a few blocks away from Ferguson Library, on Bedford Street, the theater was saved from demolition by a group of dedicated film enthusiasts. They transformed it into a non-profit art film center, after a faithful restoration of the premises was carried out by the group. The Used Bookshops Program promotes this local asset through distributing its programs in the Bookshop. The rejuvenation of the Avon contributed to new further investments by local businesses that assisted Bedford Street in becoming a more upscale, friendly shops and dining street area in Stamford's downtown district. Outdoor concerts now take place in a little park further down Bedford Street, and the street is closed to vehicular traffic for art and crafts fairs held during the warm times of the year. The street also becomes available to pedestrian traffic only for a huge international food fair held once a year, an event that is very popular with people in and outside the local community. The glowing lights of the Avon siaplay a renewed presence has helped reverse many decades of this downtown district's slow deterioration. The Stamford Police Department is vigilant in preserving security along the street at all hours, giving people and traffic using its facilities a justified sense of safety.   

   InThe American Public Library and the Problem of Purpose, Patrick Williams asserted that, "Education does not need to prove its value. Education is what the public wants from the library."[52] What the Ferguson does, in all its myriad efforts to serve as a community center, as well as a place of education, runs contrary to Williams's wisdom. What Williams contends, however, arose in part from the insistence in the 1980s in particular to measure up to performance standards set forth by such practitioner standard-setters as the American Library Association, in response to financial strains experienced throughout the nation's libraries.[53] Public libraries everywhere are constantly looking for ways to initiate innovative strategies f or serving the community. Ernest ("Ernie") DeMattia, the Ferguson Library's President, came forward with the proposal to derive some added income for the library by leasing out some of its space to a Starbucks Coffee shop, that appears to be appreciated in the local community, and which draws in large numbers of customers. He also developed a very close working rapport with Friends Used Bookshops Chair Robbie Monsma to lend support for many expanded activities in her area of operations. He has also approved of the Bookshops giving away a large volume of free books each year to community recipients and to prisoners in Connecticut correctional institutions. In addition, he has allowed the sale of books donated to the Used Bookshops program to be sold externally, via a used book dealer, whom pays the bookshop a cut of the profit and volunteers his expertise in training volunteers on book pricing and pricing procedures. Added to this, Ernie has indirectly allowed the Bookshops program to promote other community assets, such as the Avon Theater. The list of what Ernie has proactively initiated for the Ferguson Library in order for it to better serve the Stamford community cannot be summarized in full in this paper, but it suffices to state that he has been an invaluable asset for Robbie in functioning effectively, and thus is key asset to the Used Bookshops Program. From my field studies on the program, it became evident that Robbie has employed the economic concept of extended proximity to use her entire network to support the Bookshops Program.An involved library administration, therefore, has been one of Robbie's strategies in generating support for the program. Ernie and Robbie's two-way efforts also seem to be in line with strategic policies adopted at some other libraries. At the Mount Barker Community Library, in South Australia, for instance, Candy Hildenbrand wrote that such policies were ones ".extending its reach beyond books to embrace a social and community development model for the library."[54] Hillenbrand found that the library not only fosters social interaction between individuals and groups within it, but ".through established and evolving partnerships with numerous outside groups, wider community, promoting social cohesion, increasing informal reflected the library management's commitment to networks and organizations, it serves to foster relationships with the community confidence and, ultimately, building social capital."[55]

Walter Dionisio Argueta

Walter Dionisio Argueta         

Mike Kane

Mike Kane, a library custodian, drives a vintage Cadillac to work.

Two Traditional Friends Organization Models in Libraries

In traditional library science there are two models for libraries working with the nationally-present 'Friends Of' organization. The first involves a'club-oriented' model. The Friends form a club, and purchase books for their library. Staff librarians then may be assigned Friends members to undertake other responsibilities; otherwise, the organization is left to run itself. The Friends organization, according to the first model, run events that focus on library operations or other topics, and are dedicated to building membership; it does not interact with the library director much, and usually throws the library's only annual big fund-raising activity. In contrast, under the second model, the Friends organization's purpose islibrary development, and, to this end, it raises funds for the library's endowment, directly run by the library, and its members are similarly assigned to the wider community--promoting social cohesion--by increasing 'fun' activities. The library director is seen as the Friends' focal point, and the organization forms only part of the annual giving base.[56]


Walter by the bookshop

Walter by the bookshop

Walter is a part-time security guard at the library, and a playwright and director. The security guards at the library do not behave as gatekeepers, as I observed during my fieldwork, but as facilitators who assist library users. He takes a nightly shift stroll through the entire facility. Shop volunteers must walk through this part of the library from the back room, located to the left of the circulation desk, pictured at left, to the shop, located out of shot in front of the shop sign, to access both spaces. The library has taken a flexible approach to this transition process. In the back room and the shop, people are allowed to have beverages. When a volunteer has a beverage in hand, they are allowed to take it with them through this part of the library while in transition, without posing any disruption. There is not a problem with library users taking advantage of the policy to do the same, although there are times when library users will also transit the library space to access the volunteer back room from the shop. There seems to be no abuse of the flexible system in place, and the security guards have also adapted to this process, reflecting a policy of tolerance to reinforce a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the library.

Steele and Eldar (2000) out that each library will have a Friends program that develops according to its particular set of goals, and to the dictates of how each library has operated in the past. "For example, some Friends groups are separate nonprofit entities; legally and practically, they are independent and not answerable to the library director.If you have such a group, it might be best to look elsewhere for volunteer help with fundraising."[57] The Ferguson Friends organization does not fit either model, and although it does not answer to Ernie DiMattia, library president, directly, it works diligently to cooperate with him. He, in turn, works diligently to cooperate with Friends at all levels, and has been accommodating to Robbie's Used Bookshops Program. A library wanting to start up a Friends Program along the Ferguson Library's model, a third way (and there are undoubtedly countless other variations on this theme), can examine the information provided below for a fuller description of how the Ferguson Friends operates.

Venetta Rashed

Venetta Rashed is a second-generation security guard at the Stamford Public Library. Her mother was the security guard as well. Vanetta, a lay minister at a church in Stamford, knows most of the library's users, and has a good rapport with them, including the homeless people who use the library. She adheres to standards, however, and will send out a homeless person if they are not willing to meet those standards, such as in the area of hygiene, as I once observed. In this encounter, a particularly smelly individual was scolded by Venetta, in the friendliest manner possible, and told to return. Afterwards, Venetta told me that this a routine pattern of behavior in this one person. Incidentally, Venetta gets my vote forThe Library's Most Glamorous Security Guard.

Friends brochure Friends brochure

Some Uses of the Program in a Community Context

"In a complex society, the transmission of information, knowledge, and wisdom by means of the written word underlies and supports every human activity." Janet Fyfe, author ofBooks Behind Bars[58]

Stamford, Connecticut today is an urban area covering over thirty-seven square miles.[59]            

Ferguson LibraryThe Ferguson Library

Serves: 117,000 residents

Location: Corner of Broad and Bedford Streets, in downtown Stamford.

The Ferguson Library became a free public library in when the city of Stamford began to assume the majority financial responsibility.

John Day Fergusonis considered to be the library's primary public benefactor. In his will, Mr. Ferguson bequeathed $10,000 to open Stamford Public Library since he always considered the library as an extension of educational facilities.

(From: History of the StamfordLibrary at its public website.)

The Ferguson (Main) Library is in the center of its downtown area. In 1980, its Friends organization was started, ".to encourage and promote community participation and support for the activities and programs of the Ferguson Library and to assist in the Library's growth and development," according to the organization's Mission Statement.[60] A list of its 2005-2006 Board members includes[61]:


President: Joan K. Rinaldi

Vice President: Nancy Kucera

Treasurer: Jamie Santer

Secretary: Ginny Fox


Archives: Betsy Levinson

Book & Author Luncheon: Gail Malloy & Diane O'Connor

Book Shops: Robbie Monsma

Book Shop - Harry Bennett: Debbie Neiman, Ruth Propp

Books for Babies: Ann Weiss

Childhood Literacy: Ann Weiss

Computer: Nancy Kucera

Literary Competition: Gina Frederick & Eileen Rosner

Marketing: Jeanne-Marie Phillips

Membership: June Langenhan, Ricki Miller, Kitty Sample

Newsletter: Jeanne-Marie Phillips

Nominating: June Langenhan

Scholarship: Joan Rinaldi & Jamie Santer

Volunteer Recognition: Ruth Marcus

Web Site: Ann Weiss

It will be noted that Robbie Monsma is listed above as the Book Shops Committee Chair. I have not sought to interview other members of the Friends organization for the purpose of this study, although I originally had planned to do so. When the Ferguson Library decided not to permit me to conduct any interviews of library personnel, I concluded not to interview Friends Board, for the sake of fairness, and would limit my study strictly to the bookshops program.[62]

The Friends organization has donated a Literacy Computer Lab; a Purple Bus, which transports school children to the library; a special reader for people with macular degeneration; and has provided the design and installation of the Ferguson Library website, over the years.[63]

A specific impetus for setting up a Book Shops Chair position was to establish an alternative for books from continuing to be discarded by the library, Robbie Monsma has told me in my recent interview of her.[64] The idea was to establish a community re-cycling of the books removed from circulation by selling them at a very low cost via the Main Used Bookshop, which had previously been located in another part of the library from its present position between the Starbucks Coffee Shop[65], at the front, and the library itself. It was established here, in the words of the library's President Ernest DiMattia, to "add a quality to the experience of those who currently use the library," according to the Ferguson Library's website.[66]Starbucks pays rent for the 1,700 square foot-space it occupies in what was once the library's Reading Room.[67] The library also derives what has been described as a substantial income from renting part of its basement out as a U.S. Passport Office.[68]

Robbie, in turn, has developed a commercial relationship with an outside bookseller, David Greif, who performs a number of significant services for the Book Shops program. These services will be detailed in detail in my interview with him in the complete version of my study, available by request atdonow883@newschool.edu. Networking with outside companies and individuals seems to provide the library and the Friends organization with a number of mutually supportive and lucrative opportunities with para-intermediaries; Robbie interacts with Ronald Estimé ("Ron"), the Starbucks on-site manager, David Greif ("Dave"), and has enterprisingly formed a close association with Mr. and Mrs. E. Laird Mortimer, III ("Laird" and "Ann"), whom, taking the concept of re-cycling discarded books from the Library that, at one time, would have been thrown away, invites the Mortimer's to collect 're-donated' books and deliver them to the Connecticut Department of Correction's Wethersfield, CT headquarters for further distribution to the State's twenty-eight prisons.[69]

           In ways of looking at work with these para-intermediaries, are 'free agents,' (the latter defined as, "Workers who define themselves by what they do, not who they do it for; individuals who achieve employment security by sustaining their employability; everyone who works in today's 'right-sized workforce'" [Gould et al., 1997])[70].

This argument is also used by Heckscher (1995):

We found that in organizations that are able to meet free agents' needs managers are no longer looking for loyal employees, but for people with the right skill sets who view their commitments as temporary and project-focused. Instead of supplying long-term employment, management assumes the responsibility for providing challenges, coaching, a clear vision, common goals, and an environment where people can perform rewarding work. In these organizations there is a "sense not so much[of]being in this together as of working together toward a common purpose.It is a far more contingent and voluntarist form of community than the old; some might say it is colder and less fair. But it can also be seen as less paternalistic, more capable of responding to and developing individual capacities")[71].

Connecticut prisons have received only a middle ranking among the nation's prison systems, according to a 2006, two-year survey that was carried out by the New York-based Law Action Center, entitled, "After Prison: Roadblocks to Re-Entry: A Report on State Legal Barriers Facing People With Criminal Records."[72] A Report Card showed how well, or badly, each state has fared with reference to setting up 'roadblocks' (which the organization defines as, ".unfair and counterproductive barriers to the reentry into society of people with criminal records.")[73]

Connecticut prisons received an overall ranking of twenty-six out of fifty states surveyed. (The score for best went to New York prisons, and the worst to Colorado prisons.)[74] The report detailed that State of Connecticut laws pose roadblocks for released felons in these ways:

  • Employers can ask about arrests that never led to conviction.
  • Public employers and occupational licensing authorities must consider the nature of the crime and its relationship to the job, information pertaining to rehabilitation, and the time elapsed since the conviction or release.
  • Private employers may refuse to hire anyone with a criminal record regardless of their qualifications.
  • No opportunity for people with criminal records to obtain certificates of rehabilitation. Individual are eligible for benefits if they have completed the sentence, are on probation, or are in the process of completing or have completed court-mandated substance abuse treatment.
  • Arrests that have resulted in dismissal,nolle prosse, [sic] or acquittal can be erased, but not convictions, even if old or minor.
  • Bars people who are incarcerated or on parole from voting.
  • The Hartford Public Housing Authority makes individual eligibility determinations based on relevance of criminal history, but considers arrests that never led to conviction.
  • No individualized determinations about suitability to be an adoptive or foster parent.
  • Licenses automatically revoked or suspended for at least a year when individuals are convicted of drug or alcohol-related driving offenses.
  • No opportunity for those with revoked or suspended licenses to obtain restrictive licenses.
  • Connecticut prisons ranked the worst of all the New England States in terms of roadblocks.

The report concluded:

People with criminal records face a daunting array of challenges. Without a job, it is impossible to provide for oneself and one's family.Without a driver's license, it is harder to find or keep a job.Without affordable housing or food stamps or federal monies to participate in alcohol or drug treatment, it is harder to lead a stable, productive life.Without the right to vote, the ability to adopt or raise foster children, or access to a college loan, it is harder to become a fully engaged citizen in the mainstream of society.These roadblocks block the reintegration of people with criminal records, which in turn compromises everyone's safety and the well-being of our communities. But recent actions in a number of state legislatures and the Congress give us great hope that the tide has turned and major reform is on the way.We hope this report will help concerned Americans all over the country take action to facilitate the ability of people with criminal records to live productive and law-abiding lives.[75]

By design or not, Robbie serves as an encouraging host for these intermediaries in a mutually beneficial web of one-on-one business relationships. The termfree agent can apply to those who work for money or for philanthropic purposes. Laird is an example of the second type of free agent. He expresses frustration over how difficult it is for ex-convicts to secure meaningful employment after they are released from prison. Laws are made outside the prison system. He has described the Connecticut Department of Correction personnel as "very caring" people, and so I assume they are as frustrated as he, and others are, with the dismal employment prospects that someone who has "served their time" faces upon re-entry to their community.[76]

Connecticut prisons provide extensive library facilities for their inmates, either as stand-alone operations staffed by professional librarians, or through Unified School District #1's eighteen in-prison schools.[77] The State's school district 2004-2005's own statistics bear out the difficulties released felons face when re-entering their communities. The report showed that, in terms of Community Transition, of students tracked, eighty-one were employed full-time, while 131 were unemployed and forty-three were re-incarcerated.[78]

The Connecticut Department of Correction appeared to be making valiant efforts to provide educational settings for its inmates: It now employees around 295, including 222 instructors at the eighteen facilities, and these are State of Connecticut certified teachers, and others who hold Master's Degrees or higher advanced degrees, who report to Facility Education Administrators. They, in turn, report to: Director of Special Education; Director of Academic Programs; Director of Curriculum and Transition Services, and Director of Vocational Education. These directors respond to the Unified School District #1 Superintendent of Schools.[79]Connecticut Department of Correction policy towards inmate use of prison libraries for conducting legal research, and the general availability of a wide range of reading materials, even at the 'Super-Max' level, is both transparent and encouraged, according to Laird, whom has been visiting these facilities for about twelve years, and on a frequent basis.[80]

In this context, Connecticut prisons may be well ahead of many other states, as Linda Greenhouse has been reporting in her capacity (earlier as a Special Correspondent), and, more recently, as Legal Correspondent of the New York Times.[81] Ms. Greenhouse reported in a weekly roundup article of U.S. Supreme Court case hearings that Pennsylvania went before the Court on March 27, 2006, ".to defend its policy of denying most newspapers, magazines and photographs to its most incorrigible prison inmates against claims that the restriction violates the First Amendment. The policy is one of the most restrictive in the country."[82] In the presentation of the class-action lawsuit brought about by Pennsylvania inmates, their lawyer, Jere Krakoff, of Pittsburgh, was described thus:

Seeking to summarize as the red light came on to signal that his time was up, Mr. Krakoff observed that some of the hard-core inmates in the special prison unit under discussion would eventually complete their sentences and go back into society, deprived of knowledge of what had been going on in the world. "They could read about ancient wars in the bible, but not about the war in Iraq," he said. "It's not a healthy situation."[83]

Later in the same hearing, Justice Ginsberg posed this question of opposing counsel, Louis J. Rovelli, Pennsylvania's executive deputy state attorney general:                              

Justice Ginsburg asked Mr. Rovelli to explain why the policy permitted inmates to order paperback books from the prison library while prohibiting newspapers and magazines. "The rationality of that line escapes me," she said. Mr. Rovelli replied that paperbacks were, "small and compact and much more difficult to use as weapons" by the "worst of the worst" inmates to whom the policy applies.Chief Justice Roberts asked: "Is a paperback copy of 'War and Peace' less dangerous?" It was "difficult to draw a line," Mr. Rovelli acknowledged. That was where the expertise of prison officials, to which judges should defer, came in, he said. He explained that the policy was "guided by the experience of prison administrators," who had observed the "high value" that prisoners placed on access to newspapers and magazines. These were therefore to give prisoners an incentive to change their behavior in order to gain a transfer to a lower-security area of the prison. This was the justification that the appeals court had found insufficient in the absence of any evidence that it worked or had "any basis in real human psychology," the majority opinion said.Justice David H. Souter told Mr. Rovelli that the state's behavior modification theory appeared to justify depriving inmates of access to legal papers. Questioning the state's approach, Justice Souter said: "Tell them 'no, you may not receive any legal material because it's something you very much want to do.' Can the state do that?"[84]

This protracted excerpt from Ms. Greenhouse's article can inform the reader that the High Court may take a more charitable view of the right of inmates to access various types of information while being incarcerated, and to protect the rights of prisoners to research their legal cases. This may have the effect of reversing prison policy in those states which have sought to implement policies similar to Pennsylvania's. In Britain, prison reform in the period studied, 1701-1911 researcher Janet Fyfe found (during 1701-1911, the period studied) that ". Prison reform in this period was generally understood to mean both the structural reform of the prison system and the reform of the prisoner."[85] In this regard, some of the states in America presently have appeared to lag behind Britain some ninety years ago. Other authors (Cacho 2003; Anderson 2002; Sample 2001; Dixen and Thorson 2001) have examined the roles of prison libraries in America with such a reformist viewpoint as described above.

Fred Gillian

Interview Excerpts

In the community, secular voluntary organizations in Stamford such as the Friends of Ferguson Used Bookshops can engage those who use their program for the a variety of the visitor's end purposes: to sit in the bookshop with a cup of coffee, and browse the selection; to purchase books for a collection, or re-sale; to just get out of the house and go somewhere where the atmosphere is friendly and there is no sale pressure. Fred Gillian, pictured above, uses the bookshop as a transit point between his apartment in New York City, and his mother's house in Stamford, where he frequently visits to keep her company. As he works at night, he drives to Stamford after work, and stops in to the bookshop to regain his energy with a coffee and the morning newspaper. If you notice his well-tailored white shirt, it is perhaps a reflection of his personal style as well as informal business attire. On the morning I photographed him, Fred told me that he was employed at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2001, but was in Stamford visiting his mother when the World Trade Center was attacked; as the offices were on one of the highest floors of the complex, "I wouldn't have gotten out alive, and no one else from the office who was there that day did," he said. Fred is not the only 9/11 survivor who frequents the bookshop. The customer photographed below also was out of her office in one of the Twin Towers she worked in, the day the towers were crashed into by the aircraft in the terrorist attacks. In the photo below, she is looking at a book on how to start up a company. She now designs jewelry and has no plans to return to a job in New York City. Fred works from home. During interviews, the study's central question was asked in this way: (2.A.8.): 'Does giving away books conflict with the book shops' purpose of raising money for the library? (Yes/No).'

Friends bookshop


Another 9/11 survivor studies how to start a business.







Barb Leffler




There were a variety of initial responses to this question. Barb Leffler, 51, the Main Bookshop's manager, who has a law degee, simply said, "No, I don't think so."




Robbie MonsmaRobbie Monsma, 53, a lawyer who holds a Master's Degree in Christian Leadership, and who chairs the Book Committee on the Friends Board, below, replied, "Well, we always, including myself, were always asking the question, 'Is this a book we should be selling? What's our mission? Is it raising money?' Well, first of all, we were raising enough money. But second of all, we know from our own experience, that these are not books that are going to make us money."

"I mean, some of these in here, maybe we could put out for a quarter, that we try to keep, we have enough of that. That's kind of our loss leader on the retail side. So I think there was initially for people who didn't understand the bookshop process, and I am going to design a 'CandyLand' game about this process, because that's how I visualize it." We were sitting in a hallway that runs parallel to the back room, that is the unofficial headquarters of the F-2-F (or re-donations room), in the main library. "I used to call this the Euthanasia Room," she said, laughing, "because stuff would come back here, and I'd just say, 'You now, you're not going to see it, ever again.' But I think these were books that were underutilized. I mean, they weren't going to be purchased. We had no place to put them. So, it satisfies my need for complexity."

Neelu Soni, 26, a medical physicist, and, in the program, a volunteer sales representative, (not photographed, unfortunately), said: "No, I don't think so. See, you're not giving away a shop-full of books. And if people need them, it's not like you're doing anything harmful to the library."

Ali FenwickAli Fenwick, 24, a recent Johns Hopkins University graduate who is doing a journalism internship at a local newspaper, said: "I don't think so, because money that goes to the library also kind of contributes to what is, in essence, is a free book for the community."

Similarly, all the volunteers responded that they thought it is'correct' for the bookshops to give away some books, and all agreed (yes/no)that it is 'good for the community that free books are given away.' Barb said, "I think it's good because it keeps books out of the landfill. It also is good in that it promotes the Used Bookshops in the community. People learn about the Book Shops and are bringing their donations in, and they're also coming to the bookshop because we have this Friend-to-Friend program."

At a later point in the interview, however, the volunteers gave information with regard to how the community's potential disapproval to giving donations away, rather than capitalizing upon them for profit, which exposed a degree of structural conflict between the program's two aims.

Having a Free Book Program Increases Customer Satisfaction?

The volunteer's perception of a conflict between charity and profitability emerged even more fully when this question was asked:

(2.C.37). 'Now I will ask you to choose an answer from 1, 2, or 3. Here are the three:

1)Substantially increases customer satisfaction;

2) Somewhat increases customer satisfaction;

3)Does not increase customer satisfaction.'

'Do you think having a free books program within the shops program 1) substantially increases customer satisfaction, 2) somewhat increases customer satisfaction, or 3) does not increase customer satisfaction?'

Although the volunteers earlier responded that they thought the Used Bookshops Program increased the community's image of the program by giving away some free books, they largely answered in the negative about this phenomenon in answer to this specific question. The most comprehensive explanation of the conflict was provided by Barb Leffler, who said that, "It has no effect. Or, possibly even a negative one. I'm not sure people would be as thrilled about donating their books if they knew they were giving them away. But we have signs out, we've been trumpeting it, so I don't think it's something we're not sneaking around doing. But I think it's a little risky. I think it's a statement that you're having to sell.

"I think people give us books because they think they are profiting the library. They think that their beloved possessions are actually going into the collection, for circulation, by the borrowers. But that's not what happens when they get into our bookstore. So, already, it's a concession that, in fact, we're not giving them to the public for circulation, but we're going to sell them to one other individual.                         

"And then, if we're not even going to sell them to another individual, then they're thinking, 'Why did I bother? I could have just given it to someone myself.'

"On the other hand, we're making money from it, so the money is being given to the library, so it worked. It's a consistent, and logical, use of their gift. If you're just giving a book away, in a re-do (pronouncedredough) program like we have, then, it's more abstract. The benefit that their donation is more abstract, and less satisfying."

My study was about the volunteers themselves, their activities and their aspirations. I have not gone into further detail about the study in order to condense a 250-page article into this paper. There were other volunteers whose views and photographs were thus not included here. This particular group of people had much in common: they loved learning, books, and community. They dwelt at the library. The shop was an expression of their personal, and sometimes, religious, values. It was a delightful group to study, albeit it not a very dramatic one. I could well understand why people would wonder why I would choose such a tame lot of subjects to study as a library's bookshop volunteers. My deepest philosophy is reflected in this study; that, just as evil can be banal, so can goodness. The act of volunteering is not exciting, but it is profoundly meaningful as an autonomous, everyday act of strengthening a community in which members live, work, and play. Their efforts have been personally enriching to me, and I hope the reader will see their experiences in the program as acts that bring a small hope to the future for civic participation in American life.

window of Starbucks Coffee

A view of Starbucks Coffee through the front window facing Broad Street. Starbucks lines many of its shelves with used books from the Friends Bookshop.

While they did not always share the same view about the extent to which the program could reconcile giving away, as opposed to earning money for, their endeavors, it is nonetheless noteworthy that they ultimately expressed the opinion that these aims were mutually viable. It is in this regard that I hope to make a small contribution to the inter-disciplinary social sciences literature which is rooted in sociology and visual methods.


[1] Dewey, John. 1931 (1968 ed.).Philosophy and Civilization. Gloucester, Mass: Peter Smith: 11.

[2] Mills, C. Wright. 1959 (1966 ed.).The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press: 130.

[3] Id: 132.

[4] Id: 132

[5] Id: 133.

[6] In Harrison C. White'sIdentity and Control. 1992. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press: 303.

[7] InFrom Subjects to Subjectivities. 2001. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press: 29.

[8] In Jeffrey C. Goldfarb'sThe Politics of Small Things. 2006. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press: 8.

[9] In Rachel Lev-Wiesel's "Indicators constituting the construct of 'perceived community cohesion'."Community Development Journal: Oct 1 2003, 38, 4.

[10] Geertz, Cliffford. 1973 (2000 ed.).The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books: 6.

[11] Id: 7.

[12] Id.

[13] Id: 19.

[14] Id: 30.                                                         

[15] In John Grady's "Working with Visible Evidence: An Invitation and Some Practical Advise," from Knowles, Caroline, and Sweetman, Paul. 2004.Picturing the Social Landscape: Visual Methods and the Sociological Imagination. New York: Routledge: 18.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] In "Visual Sociology" from Bryant, Clifton, and Peck, Dennis (eds).The Handbook of 21st Century Sociology(forthcoming in December, 2006). Sage Publications. (Used with permission of the author.): 8-9.

[20] Id: 21.

[21] Id: 24.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Id: 25.

[25] Goffman, Erving. 1959 (1976 ed.).Gender Advertisements. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press: 17.

[26] Becker, Howard S. "Visual Sociology, Documentary Photography, and Photojournalism: It's (Almost) All a Matter of Context." Available from:http://home.earthlink.net/~hsbecker/visual.html.

[27] Daniels, Arlene Kaplan. 1988.Invisible Careers: Women Civic Leaders from the Volunteer World. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.

[28] Id: Preface xiii.

[29] Id: 11.

[30] Gerson, Kathleen. 1985. Hard Choices.How Women Decide about Work, Career, and Motherhood. Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press: 42.

[31] Nussbaum, Martha C. 2000.Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press: 298.

[32] Id.

[33] In Kathleen Gerson's Hard Choices, as cited above at f4: 38.

[34] In, Feinstein, Estelle, Joyce S. Pendery & Robert Lockwood Mills'sStamford: An Illustrated History. 2002. Sun Valley, Calif.: American Historical Press/The Stamford Historical Society/American Historical Press: 75.

[35] Id: 77.

[36] See Wayne Russell's, "That Special Blend-Stamford's Melting Pot," inStamford Past and Present: 1641-1976. 1970. The Commemoration Press of the Stamford Bicentennial Committee. Stamford, CT: Stamford Bicentennial Corp.: 68. For an excellent account of nativism in America, see Leonard Dinnerstein et al.'sNatives and Strangers: A Multicultural History of Americans. 1996. New York: Oxford University Press.

[37] See Feinstein, et al, as above: 79.

[38] Id: 80.

[39] Id: 47.

[40] In the report of the Federal Writers' Project for the State of Connecticut. 1938. Works Progress Administration. Hartford, Conn.: Connecticut State Department of Education: 13.

[41] Id.

[42] Id.

[43] Id.

[44] In Joyce Pendery'sWomen's Secular Voluntary Organizations and Their Leadership, Stamford, Connecticut, 1860 to 1910. 1978. Unpublished M.A. Essay, Sarah Lawrence College. In the collection of Ferguson Library, Stamford, Conn., Stamford Reserve Room, 2nd Floor: 62.

[45] Conversations with Robbie Monsma, 2005-6.

[46] Conversations with Barbara Leffler, 2005-6.

[47] In Kretzmann, John P.'s, and McKnight, John L.'sBuilding Communities from the Inside Out. 1993. The Asset-Based Community Development Institute, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University. Chicago, Ill.: ACTA Publications: 202.

[48] Id: 27.

[49] Id: 28.

[50] Id: 14.

[51] Id: 191.

[52] Williams, Patrick. 1988. The American Public Library and the Problem of Purpose. New York: Greenwood Press: 137.

[53] In Trezza, Alphonse (ed.). 1985.Public Libraries and the Challenges of the Next Two Decades. Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.: 47.

[54] Hillenbrand, Candy. 2005. "A Place for All: Social Capital at the Mount Barker Community Library, South Australia." June, 2005: Aplis: 18(2), 41-60: 56.

[55] Id.

[56] Steele, Victoria, and Eldar, Stephen D. 2000 (2nd ed.).Becoming a Fundraiser: The Principles and Practice of Library Development. Chicago, Ill.: American Library Association: 78.

[57] Id: 77.

[58] Fyfe, Janet.Books Behind Bars. 1992. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press: Preface.

59 Stamford: A City That Works. City of Stamford Information Sheet, available from:http://www.ci.stamford.ct.us/GovernmentAndGeneralCityInfo/Profile.htm.

[60] Friends of Ferguson. Available online from:http://friendsoffergusonlibary.org/.

[61] Id.

[62] Correspondence between the author and Alice Knapp, Director of Public Services, dated February, 2006, March 1, 2006,March 3, 2006, and March 6, 2006, via Email. The final Email from Ms. Knapp, read: "Hi Wes. It is not a matter of your goals. As a general practice, we do not have surveys from outside organizations or individuals-regardless of their goals."

[63] A partial list. Friends of Ferguson.

[64] Author's interview with Robbie Monsma, Friends of Ferguson Book Shops Chair, February 27, 2006.

[65] More information on the Starbucks at Ferguson Library may be obtained from:http://www.fergusonlibrary.org/about_us/starbucks/starbucks.html.

[66] Id.

[67] Part of this information based on the Robbie Monsma interview, part of it obtained from Ronald Estimé, the shop's manager, in an interview on April 1, 2006.

[68] Ferguson Library's official website, at:http://www.fergusonlibrary.org/about_us/passport_office/passport_office.html.

[69] Information supplied during interviews with Robbie Monsma and E. Laird Mortimer, III.

[70] In Gould, Susan B., Kerry J. Weiner, and Barbara R. Levin's Free Agents: People and Organizations Creating a New Working Community. 1997: San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Inside front jacket.

[71] In C. Heckscher'sWhite-Collar Blues.1995. New York: HarperCollins: 14, from Free Agents: People and Organizations Creating a New Working Community, as at n. [70], above.

[72] The full report from Action Law Center is available online at:www.lac.org/roadblocks.htm.

[73] Id.

[74] Id.

[75] Id: 23.

[76] From the E. Laird Mortimer, III interview.

[77] Connecticut Department of Correction Unified School District #1 Annual Performance Report: 2004-2005. State of Connecticut Department of Correction: 6.

[78] Id: 13.

[79] As at f77., above: Id: 9, 13.

[80] Laird went into great detail on Connecticut's prison library facilities in the interview.

[81] I reference two Greenhouse articles, in particular: "Supreme Court Term: Divisions Over Rights; News Analysis," New York Times (late ed., East Coast) Jul 9, 1982:A1 (as a "special" to the NYT), available online from:http://proquest.umi.; and, later, as the in-house Legal Correspondent, in a weekly roundup article on U.S. Supreme Court cases: "Curb on Access to/News In Prison Gets Hearing," New York Times (late ed., East Coast) March 28, 2006: A14.available online from:http://www.NYTimes.com.

[82] Id, at Note 81, above: A14.

[83] Id.

[84] In Janet Fyfe'sBooks Behind Bars. 1992. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press: Introduction.

[85] Id: 191.



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