Treasures Lie Deep in the Basement of the Library at the Book Burrow

By Kyung-ah Kang
The New Citizens Press

LANSING, MI —     When the door of the Book Burrow opens, its manager greets those waiting with a big smile. Inside the bookstore, the manager and volunteers are busy carrying book carts, sorting out and shelving books. All of them look excited and happy, thinking of all the good these books will do in the community.  Located in the basement of the Lansing’s Main Library, the Book Burrow is the hidden treasure of the library where people can fully enjoy browsing through thousands of neatly shelved books and get many different books at great prices.
     Without visiting, people will never be able to imagine the size of this secret bookstore. The Book Burrow has 26 aisles of books, plus collectible.  One volunteer estimates the number of books as about 37,500. They cover a wide range of categories, including children’s and teen’s books, education, health, mystery, philosophy, travel, tapes, videos, etc.
The bookstore receives a great number of donations although this varies thorough the year. In summer, they get many donations because of a lot of yard sales. Half of the books come from donations, and the other half from library discards. Sally Holliday, manager of the Book Burrow, said the biggest subjects at the bookstore are arts, African American, cooking, crafts, Michigan, and science fiction, and these are the most wanted items for donations.
      The prices of the books range from 50 cents to $5, with collectible that are higher. The Book Burrow helps more local people to get involved in reading with its good prices and a variety of selections by making books more accessible for many. Being able to buy books and keep them can help people with literacy and learning development.
“We have good prices on our books. And so it makes books available to people who can’t afford to go to Barnes & Noble. I think that’s the big part of it,” Holliday said. “Not only do we make books available to people who can’t afford new book prices, but we also carry things that new bookstores are not going to carry—more literature, authors that don’t sell right away, and things that you’re not going to find in new bookstores.”
The Book Burrow started 33 years ago with a group of people who wanted to help make money for the library and formed a group called the Friends of Lansing Libraries. The used bookstore has benefited local people and communities in many ways. Last year, the Book Burrow made $33,000 in profit. The money was used to support the libraries ( Main, Foster, and South Lansing) with their services and facilities. It has helped the library to buy tables and chairs for renovating the children’s section and to run many reading programs, such as those for teens and children.
     Holliday said the Book Burrow takes a lot of library discards and makes good use of them by selling them at reasonable prices and this encourages people to read more, which is one of the main goals of the library.
     “I think reading expands your world. You learn about other times and other people,” Holliday said. “It makes you more tolerant. It tells you about other people’s emotional lives, not just how they lived physically.  It gives you lots of knowledge. Even if you’re reading a novel, you can learn all kinds of interesting things.”
   Okemos resident, Rajesh Kanna, was browsing CDs at the Book Burrow. He stopped by the bookstore during his break from work in downtown Lansing. He comes to the bookstore at least once a week. What he likes most about the Book Burrow is its collection of books and most importantly, price. He enjoys buying children’s books, fiction, audio CDs, and any book titles that sound interesting to him.
     “I love reading. Even reading some fiction stories, I was able to get some idea about certain areas which otherwise would have been impossible for me to know,” Kanna said. “For example, Air Frame by Michael Crichton was an interesting novel as well as informative. I got to know so much about building the aeroplane, and what is happening inside that industry.”
    Terry Olmstead, a Lansing resident, is also a big fan of the Book Burrow. He is interested in buying books on poetry, self-help and religion books. What he likes about the Book Burrow is that people can get older books that are no longer in bookstores.
    “Prices are really cool,” Olmstead added. “I don’t have to worry about returning these. I can let them ride and I’m ready to go over them again. It keeps me reading.”
    Olmstead usually buys books at the Book Burrow for himself and others. Today he bought a book for his cousin. Olmstead drives all over the United States and gives a lot of books to people outside of the Lansing area.   
      The Book Burrow is a place that attracts many parents. Grand Rapids resident, Kelly Martinez, dropped by the Book Burrow with her 2-year-old son.  Martinez often buys children’s books.  She is also interested in looking at science fiction books, paper backs and magazines.
    Martinez likes reading for several reasons. She likes to read to her kids. Also, she loves reading for herself because it can be a break from her kids.       
       “I like kid’s books and reading to them,” Martinez said. “It helps them to become better readers.”
     To many like her, the Book Burrow is a lovely place where people can get books on a wide range of topics even rare books at great, affordable prices. With the Book Burrow, anyone can become an avid reader. This unique bookstore inside the Main Library benefits local people and communities in various ways. It makes books available to more people and promotes reading. It also helps the libraries with their services and facilities and encourages people to spend more time in the libraries what the Friends of Lansing Libraries call “Time Well Spent”.   In addition, the library’s reading programs help develop individuals in the community with literacy and learning. Through these contributions, the Book Burrow helps to foster reading among both adults and children and to enrich communities for current and future generations.     
   You can be part of these great efforts by visiting the Book Burrow, donating books, volunteering for the Book Burrow or joining a member of the Friends of Lansing Libraries. Visiting and exploring the Book Burrow can be a fun experience.   Donating can be more rewarding, however, they do not except textbooks, law books and magazines that are more than two years old.
     Furthermore, your purchase can support libraries. To learn more about the Book Burrow, please log on to the C.A.D.L. website at under "Support Your Library".  Their e-mail is Their hours are: Thursday: 11-2 & 4-7, Friday: 11-2 and Saturday:11-4.