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Dan Hust | Democrat

Connie Keller, left, and Linda Reeves love working amidst the books, videos and tutors of Sullivan County’s chapter of Literacy Volunteers. Keller is the executive director, and Reeves is one of the many volunteer faces you’ll find at Literacy Volunteers’ newest location inside the Duggan Community Center (the former elementary school) in White Lake.

Newest area literacy center also offers a bargain on books

By Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE — November 30, 2010 — Connie Keller admits frustration at overseeing the newest “best-kept secret” in Sullivan County.
Especially when it could be the ideal place to find that elusively perfect gift this season.
Remember the hoopla this past summer over the relocation of the Town of Bethel’s municipal meeting and court spaces to the just-closed Duggan Elementary School in White Lake?
Town residents certainly do, but that “open to all” knowledge is apparently not yet beyond Bethel’s borders.
Keller wants to change that.
“We know we’ve just started to grow here,” she says, surveying the comfortable interior of the Past Perfect Bookstore.
It’s the first door on the left when you enter what is now called the Duggan Community Center, just off Route 55 in White Lake. (Put your finger on the center of a map of Sullivan County, and White Lake is just a smidgen to the southwest.)
The former classroom has been transformed into an inviting shop brimming with books and tapes, thanks to donations of shelving from County Historian John Conway and donations of time and effort from the dedicated ranks of Literacy Volunteers (LV), Past Perfect’s parent.
LV’s Sullivan County chapter is based in Monticello – where there’s another bookstore, Read It Again, diagonally across North Street from the Government Center.
But Past Perfect’s center-of-the-county situation is designed to reach out to an audience unable or unwilling to trek to Monticello – and not just for books.
“We’ve known for a long time there was a need in western Sullivan County for literacy services,” explains Keller, the local LV’s executive director.
Volunteer tutors offer reading, writing, computer and math lessons in Lake Huntington and Glen Spey, but Past Perfect’s White Lake space is uniquely dedicated to those who want to gain new or enhance existing skills.
“Our mission is to provide adults with literacy skills that will improve the quality of their lives,” Keller confirms.
Since these lessons are offered for free inside a building that still must be heated, lit and maintained, the non-profit Literacy Volunteers must continually raise funds.
The loss of a third of its state funding means a major contributor to LV’s continued existence is you, the shopper.
“I think we have just about every genre: fiction, non-fiction, books-on-tape, videos, children’s literature, biographies, mystery, romance, even large-print,” says Keller.
Most books are under two bucks – hardcovers are generally just $1.50 – but you can find hundreds upon hundreds of gently-used, almost-new and never-opened books for as little as 50 cents and no more than $4.
Every cent goes to fund LV’s Sullivan County operations. And since it’s a 501(c)3 organization, your purchases are tax-deductible.
Of course, you’re welcome to sit down and read any book before you buy – or just come to read, with no pressure.
Or perhaps you’ll make the ultimate holiday gift to LV – by training to become a volunteer, either tutoring or minding the store.
If nothing else, Keller hopes you let your friends know about LV’s new center in the heart of the warm and welcoming Bethel community.
“We want to get the word out,” she says.
Hours at Past Perfect in White Lake are 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Friday, with intentions to expand. The number to call is 583-7191.
LV’s headquarters in Monticello is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday. Its number, which is LV’s main line, is 794-0017.

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